How the Orioles can make room for Coby Mayo on Opening Day roster

Here are several ways the Baltimore Orioles could get Coby Mayo onto the opening day roster

Feb 21, 2024; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Coby Mayo (86) poses for a photo during
Feb 21, 2024; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Coby Mayo (86) poses for a photo during / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is an exciting time in baseball. Fans get to celebrate the return of America's pastime while speculations run wild about which players will have great seasons and what teams will compete for a World Series. It is even more exciting for the young prospects in the game who are trying to realize their childhood dream of becoming a major leaguer. One of those prospects that is on the doorstep of that goal is Baltimore Orioles third baseman Coby Mayo.

Even though Mayo is only 22 years old, he's already entering his fourth professional season. Mayo only played six games in his freshman year of high school and eight games in his senior season after the pandemic shortened the season. Having basically only played two seasons in high school, Mayo still displayed enough potential that the O's drafted him in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. Since then, the imposing hitter, listed at 6'5" and 230 lbs, has worked his way through the minor leagues and is now knocking on the door at Camden Yards.

Mayo has climbed at least one level in the minors in each of his years in the Orioles organization. He finished 2023 by helping the Norfolk Tides win the Triple-A national championship and started 2024 with an invite to spring training. Mayo has been very productive in his years with the Orioles organization and has climbed the prospect rankings, but due to a logjam of talent, he is still fighting for his chance to play in the majors. He was drafted as a third baseman and had played there primarily in the minors, but has also begun to learn the first base position. Even with the uphill climb Mayo has faced this spring, he has played well enough to garner consideration for the Opening Day roster. He's batting .323 with a 1.013 OPS. He only has one home run so far, but six of his 10 hits are for extra bases and he has nine RBI.

Orioles Opening Day Roster: Room for Coby Mayo?

The Orioles infield is crowded and they are already projected to keep seven infielders (Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O'Hearn, Jackson Holliday, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo), so a spot would need to be cleared for Mayo. One possibility is to move on from Ramon Urias. Urias has value as a utility player that can play first, second and third base, and does have a Gold Glove to his credit at third. He is also a solid hitter, increasing his average from .248 in 2022 to .264 last season; unfortunately, in the process, his power seemingly disappeared. Urias has plenty to offer in the majors, but does not have the star potential that the younger Orioles prospects possess. So far, Urias has played well this spring, but the talent coming up behind him may force him out of Baltimore.

If the Birds are looking to get more in return in a potential trade, they could look to trade away Jordan Westburg. Odds are Westburg is going to be a very good player in the majors, too good to be relegated to a utility position, but he could find himself there to start the season. Jackson Holliday looks to be the second baseman of the future for the O's and Gunnar Henderson has shortstop locked up, which leaves third base for Westburg. He's very talented and is a better fielder than Mayo, but Westburg doesn't have the greatest arm strength, per Baseball Savant. A trade to a team that needs a second baseman or shortstop could allow Westburg to have more success in the majors and clear a path for Mayo if he wins the starting job. A prospect of Westburg's caliber would likely bring in the biggest return to either strengthen the pitching staff or replenish the prospect pool that they've begun to dip into.

The only thing resembling a weakness in Mayo's game it is his defense. If a big power-hitting righty that struggles defensively on the left side of the infield sounds familiar, it may be because of Ryan Mountcastle. Mountcastle was drafted as a shortstop and changed positions a couple times before landing at first base and forcing fan favorite Trey Mancini out of Baltimore. History could repeat itself, with Mayo forcing Mountcastle out. Mayo has gotten reps at first base in his last two minor league seasons and had success at that position. Mountcastle dominates left handed pitching, but he is a streaky hitter that has significantly lower numbers against righties. Mayo, on the other hand, had strong numbers against lefties and even better numbers against righties last season. Mountcastle has now become the fan favorite in danger of being pushed out by a younger player with an even higher ceiling.

All of this could be a moot point in two weeks when the regular season starts. Mayo has less than half a season of experience at Triple-A, and the Orioles front office could decide to keep him in the minors for a bit because they can afford to. But if Mayo keeps hitting the way he's been hitting this spring, he will be in Baltimore sooner rather than later.