Roster takes shape with opening day looming next week

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Pic By: Craig Landefeld
Villar will lead the Orioles offense this year.

With opening day just six days away, it’s getting down to the nitty gritty and the opening day roster is starting to take shape. Saying that, Orioles GM Mike Elias will certainly scan the waiver wire over the last week of spring training and has shown already that he won’t be shy to grab players who he feels can be part of a winning future.

The one thing that has become very clear is that every move Elias has made this spring is about the future. With the releases of Eric Young Jr. and the Alcides Escobar, Elias and manager Brandon Hyde seem to be confident in the young talent they have are at least major league ready and worth giving at bats too over the veterans.

Barring any waiver claims, the roster looks like it’s coming into focus with the only major decision left seemingly being what to do with Chris Davis. Stuck with his awful contract, it’s doubtful Elias would be able to release Davis who this spring looks just like the guy who put up one of the worse season ever for a major league regular over an entire season.

Assuming Davis will make the roster, does he start at 1B, DH, or does Elias look to the future and put him on the bench? How the Orioles handle Davis has ramifications for Mark Trumbo, Renato Nunez, Dwight Smith Jr. and possibly Rio Ruiz.

If Davis starts at 1B, it pushes Mancini to LF or DH if Trumbo starts the year on injured list (IL). If the Orioles decided to DH Davis (assuming Trumbo starts year on IL) then Mancini goes to 1B, Smith starts in LF, and the loser of the 3B battle (Looks like Ruiz is the best option at 3B) will go to the bench or if for some reason it’s Ruiz, back to AAA.

Everything is Elias’ being has to want Davis and Trumbo off this roster so he can give his young players opportunities, but their salaries will make that very hard. Trumbo’s lack of PAs coming off his leg surgery means he’s most likely heading to IL which takes care of one problem, but I’m guessing that Davis is starting the year on the bench or in some kind of quasi time share at 1B/DH with Mancini and Nunez.

Here’s how I see the opening day roster shaping up:
1B: Trey Mancini (Backups Davis and Nunez)
2B: Jonathan Villar
SS: Richie Martin
3B: Rio Ruiz
C: Chance Sisco
LF: Dwight Smith Jr.
CF: Cedric Mullins
RF: Joey Rickard
DH: Renato Nunez (Backup Chris Davis)
BC: Jesus Sucre
UTL: Drew Jackson
UTL: Hanser Alberto
1B/DH: Chris Davis

Notes: I think the Orioles will keep a second utility player in Alberto, especially since Jackson can play the outfield as well. Jackson wasn’t impressive in his few opportunities at SS and although Alberto doesn’t have the ideal arm strength, he’s probably a better option defensively at SS. With Martin’s bat a question mark, the Orioles may go with a bit of a time share with Alberto at SS with Martina and occasionally Jackson.

The Orioles want to be better defensively and Ruiz is clearly a defensive upgrade over Nunez who struggled all spring with his throwing. Sucre is the best defensive catcher and leader of the catching options, but Sisco should get a lot of opportunities as they see if he can rebound from a horrid 2018.

The pitching staff shapes up like this:
SP: Alex Cobb
SP: Dylan Bundy
SP: Andrew Cashner
SP: Davis Hess
SP: Mike Wright
CL: Mychal Givens
SU: Miguel Castro (R)
SU: Richard Bleier (L)
MR: Nate Karns (R)
MR: Pedro Araujo (R)
MR: Paul Fry (L)
LR: Tanner Scott (L)

Notes: Scott has been less than impressive this spring and the Orioles could try to find a guy who can provide more length on the waiver wire or go with Josh Rogers or possibly John Means, especially since Scott has a option left. All of the relievers have the ability go multiple innings, so we probably won’t see guys outside of Givens going just one inning late in games in a pure Brad Brach or Darren O’day type of setup roles.

Araujo is probably only here until his Rule 5 commitment is fulfilled in Mid-April. Wright seems to be the #5 starter winner, but his hold could be very tentative unless he pitches well.




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Tony Pente
Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.