These Baltimore Orioles NRIs have the best chance to make the team
These 5 Baltimore Orioles NRIs have a chance to stick on the MLB roster
Last week, the Baltimore Orioles put out a list of a new batch of non-roster invites (NRI) to MLB spring training when pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota on Feb. 16. A big headliner to this list is Jackson Holliday, even though it's certain he won't be breaking camp with the team. There are some NRI's, however, that do have a real chance to make the team, so let's look at some of them.
The Lewin Díaz carousel has stopped long enough for him to clear waivers (finally) and be assigned to Triple A Norfolk, giving the Orioles the chance to bring him into camp as an NRI. It's no secret that the Orioles have been looking for a lefty first baseman to complement Ryan Mountcastle, and that's exactly what Díaz is. He's very sharp defensively, but his chances might be brought down by the fact that he's not too good of a hitter.
You could count me surprised when Ryan O'Hearn was DFA'd shortly after the Orioles traded for him in the first place. Fortunately for Baltimore, he cleared waivers, so he's also an NRI to big league camp. I see O'Hearn as the front-runner to be the backup behind Mountcastle. He's a solid defender, can also play the outfield, and has a little more to offer with the bat than Díaz. He's also quite experienced at first, so it just makes the most sense to me.
Signed to a minor league deal earlier in the offseason, I think Franchy Cordero is the least likely among this trio of lefty first basemen to crack the opening day roster. With the bat, he's very strikeout prone, doesn't offer enough contact, and isn't hitting enough home runs to stick. Defensively, we saw him at first base in an extended sample last year, and it wasn't pretty. It wasn't much better in the outfield either. Díaz has the edge over Cordero in my opinion thanks to stable defense, and O'Hearn has the edge thanks to better overall play. Unless something goes horribly wrong, he's in Norfolk all year.
One of the many catchers the Orioles tried to stash during the offseason, Mark Kolozsvary made his MLB debut in 2022 with a ten game sample. He's had solid minor league numbers to date, and has a shot to be the first callup if the Orioles need a body behind the plate. He has a shot to crack the team as well if the Orioles decide to give James McCann more run at first base. He's an up and coming catcher that could be an intriguing piece at the major league level.
Added on a minor league deal in the offseason, Eduard Bazardo is someone who catches my eye as an under the radar bullpen addition. His four pitch mix was playing in a short stint at the big league level, although a 6.05 FIP compared to a 2.76 ERA shows Bazardo got lucky. You can never have enough bullpen depth, however, and Bazardo is someone who could be a good depth option.