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Orioles acquire left-hander Vidal Nuño in trade with Dodgers

The Orioles add pitching depth by trading for Vidal Nuno, a left-hander from the Dodgers.

The Orioles added another piece to their pitching depth Sunday, acquiring left-handed reliever Vidal Nuño in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers

The Orioles will send minor league right-hander Ryan Moseley, who pitched at Short-A Aberdeen last season, to the Dodgers in the deal.

To make 40-man roster space for Nuño, the Orioles designated left-hander T.J. McFarland for assignment. 

The addition of the 29-year-old Nuño gives the Orioles a versatile veteran who can pitch both as a starter and in relief.

"Our scouts like how Vidal Nuño competes in the American League, and old school baseball people will appreciate how he works fast, throws strikes and changes speeds," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message. "We look forward to his contributions to the 2017 club."

Nuño's likely role with the Orioles will be as a reliever who can offer the team length out of the bullpen. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said last week that the team could carry a third lefty in the pen along with closer Zach Britton and situational lefty Donnie Hart on the Opening Day roster.

The addition of Nuño and the move to designate McFarland keeps the Orioles' spring training roster at 54 players for now. 

The team has 10 days to trade, release or pass McFarland through waivers. However, any team claiming McFarland off waivers would be responsible for the $685,000 salary he is set to receive in his first year of arbitration eligibility. McFarland is out of minor league options this year. 

The move to add Nuño is the latest by Duquette in recent days to supplement the team’s roster. The Orioles purchased 23-year-old right-hander Gabriel Ynoa from the New York Mets on Feb. 10 to add pitching depth, and also signed veteran outfielder Craig Gentry, a versatile, defensive-minded outfielder with speed, to a minor league deal with a spring training invite on Saturday.

Nuño came up with the New York Yankees as a starting pitcher but has mostly worked out of the bullpen for the past two seasons. Last season, he posted a 3.53 ERA in 58 2/3 innings for the Seattle Mariners, with all but one of his 55 appearances coming in relief. Fourteen of his 54 relief appearances last year lasted more than one inning.

Over his career, Nuño is 5-20 with a 4.02 ERA over parts of four major league seasons. He owns a 3.14 career ERA in 100 1/3 innings as a reliever. Over his career, he’s been adept at getting left-handed hitters out, holding them to a .224 batting average, compared to a .273 average against right-handed hitters.

Nuño is a proven strike-thrower, as shown by his career 3.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio (he posted an impressive 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season with the Mariners). And like Ynoa, he puts the ball in play, doesn’t miss many bats and makes his defense play behind him. He relies on his control and changing speeds, primarily leaning on a four-seam fastball that averages 88-89 mph, a mid-80s slider and a low 80s changeup, though in recent years, he actually used his slider more than his fastball.    

Still, Nuño has struggled to stick with a team. He was traded from Seattle to the Dodgers in November in exchange for veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz. The Orioles would be Nuño’s fifth team since 2014.

He will earn $1.125 million this year in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The Orioles have control of Nuño through the 2019 season. Nuño still has a minor league option available.

Once Nuño arrives in Orioles camp, his time with his new team could be brief. He is still expected to pitch for Mexico in next month’s World Baseball Classic, so he’d likely leave camp in the first week of March.

Because the Orioles are scheduled to have four right-hander starters, Showalter would like to have a left-handed long reliever. McFarland has filled that role over parts of the previous four seasons.

Moseley was drafted by the Orioles last season in the eighth round out of Texas Tech.  The 22-year-old posted a 3.20 ERA and four saves over 19 2/3 relief innings for Aberdeen in his first professional season. He was scouted and signed by Orioles scout Nathan Showalter, the son of the Orioles’ manager.  

eencina@baltsun.com

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