It's that time of the year Orioles fans. The end of spring training is always hectic. Grayson Rodriguez was sent down to Triple A on Monday, plus plenty of roster cuts were made. With the 26 man opening day roster now set, let's break down who's on it and who's not.
Baltimore Orioles set 26 man roster to start the season
We'll start off with the cuts from Monday. Non roster invites Eduard Bazardo, Ryan O'Hearn, Daz Cameron, Reed Garrett, Josh Lester, Maverick Handley, and Jordan Westburg were assigned to Triple A. Franchy Cordero and Nomar Mazara were released.
Although none of these cuts are particularly surprising, with O'Hearn, Lester, and Cordero now out of the opening day picture, there still is no set backup first baseman to Ryan Mountcastle. Maybe it could be Anthony Santander after all.
In terms of injuries, manager Brandon Hyde confirmed that Mychal Givens will start the season on the IL, with Dillon Tate and John Means also joining him. Between Givens and Tate, the Orioles now have a few holes to plug in the bullpen until they return. Catcher James McCann is also starting the year on the IL, with Anthony Bemboom cracking the opening day roster as Adley Rutschman's backup.
With the opportunity in the bullpen present, I thought that would give Rule 5 draft choice Andrew Politi more assurance of a roster spot. Clearly the team thought otherwise, as Politi was designated for assignment. Politi went unclaimed on waivers and was offered back to the Red Sox, who took him back.
With Politi back with the Red Sox to go with Tate and Givens out of the picture to open the season, the back end spots in the bullpen were wide open. Those were claimed by new acquisition Danny Coulombe, converted starting pitcher Mike Baumann, and a surprising candidate in Logan Gillaspie. Joey Krehbiel was sent to Norfolk to make room for Gillaspie on the 26 man roster.
Gillaspie, Coulombe, and Baumann join the rest of the bullpen group, featuring closer Félix Bautista, setup man Cionel Pérez, Bryan Baker, and long relievers Austin Voth and Keegan Akin. The Orioles will probably lean on Baker a lot early in the season for high leverage innings alongside Pérez until Tate and Givens return, likely until whoever gets activated first.
The bench battle was one to watch in Orioles camp, between the first basemen and Terrin Vavra. With all first base candidates out of the picture, Vavra has won his spot. Ryan McKenna and Kyle Stowers also locked down spots that were likely going to belong to them anyway. Bemboom also grabs a bench spot as backup catcher by virtue of McCann going on the IL.
As for the starting rotation, that group has now been set. We already knew Kyle Gibson was starting opening day and Dean Kremer was starting game two, but now the rest of the rotation has come into focus. Tyler Wells won a rotation spot over Rodriguez, with Cole Irvin and Kyle Bradish rounding out the starting five in the rotation. The only real surprise here is that Rodriguez is in Triple A. For the other four, it was their spot to lose, and they didn't. Of note, Irvin is starting game three against the Boston Red Sox, likely putting Bradish at the four spot and Wells at five.
In case that was tough to follow, here's a position breakdown of the opening day roster
Catchers: Adley Rutschman, Anthony Bemboom
Infielders: Ryan Mountcastle, Adam Frazier, Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías
Outfielders: Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Kyle Stowers, Ryan McKenna
Utility: Terrin Vavra
Starting pitchers: Kyle Gibson, Dean Kremer, Cole Irvin, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells
Relief pitchers: Félix Bautista, Cionel Pérez, Bryan Baker, Danny Coulombe, Mike Baumann, Austin Voth, Keegan Akin, Logan Gillaspie
10 Day IL: James McCann
15 Day IL: Mychal Givens, Dillon Tate
60 Day IL: John Means
While the roster absolutely can and absolutely will change throughout the course of the season, these are the 26 folks the Orioles will be rolling with to start the season in Boston. Happy baseball season everyone!