Early in the offseason, the Baltimore Orioles have added to the fringes of the team. They've signed a relief pitcher to an intriguing minor league contract and have claimed a lefty pitcher on the waiver wire.
On Wednesday, the Orioles revisited the waiver wire, claiming outfielder Sam Hilliard from the Atlanta Braves after they put him on waivers. With the 40 man roster full, the Orioles designated relief pitcher Joey Krehbiel for assignment to make room for Hilliard.
Orioles make waiver claim for outfielder Sam Hilliard
Hilliard spent the 2023 season with the Braves but was limited to only 40 games due to an injury to his right heel that saw him end the season on the 60 Day IL. His last game was in July. In those 40 games, Hilliard had a .236/.295/.431 slash line, hitting three home runs with five doubles, four stolen bases, and 6 RBIs, working six walks.
Because his season was cut short, Hilliard only appears in two advanced rankings on baseball savant. Both are in his favor, with his arm strength ranking in the 75th percentile while primarily playing center field. His sprint speed has an exceptional rating, sitting in the 90th percentile.
This offseason, Hilliard is arbitration eligible for the first time after playing on a $750,000 contract in 2023. According to MLB Trade rumors, Hilliard is projected to make $1.1 million in arbitration. He is eligible for free agency after the 2026 season comes to an end.
Hilliard played for the Braves last season after spending the first four seasons of his major league career with the Colorado Rockies. Over his five big league seasons, Hilliard has a .215/.294/.424 slash line, hitting 32 home runs, 24 doubles, and seven triples while driving in 77 runs in 254 games.
The casualty of the 40 man roster crunch in this instance is Krehbiel. He spent most of 2023 in Norfolk but did get some action in the majors toward the end of the season. In six appearances, Krehbiel allowed one run on two hits and two walks, striking out five hitters in five innings pitched.
Even though Hilliard has no minor league options remaining, it seems likely that he'll be a depth outfielder at best, mostly staying on alert in Norfolk ready to come up if an opportunity arises. The Orioles will likely have no qualms about DFA'ing him later in the offseason if they have to. In any event, Hilliard is the newest member of the Orioles organization.