The Orioles' continued efforts to add pitching inventory to the organization took a hit Monday as the club traded right-hander starter Joe Gunkel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash.
The Orioles designated Gunkel for assignment Friday to clear 40-man roster space for trade acquisition Miguel Castro. At that point the team had 10 days to either trade, release or pass Gunkel through outright waivers.
Gunkel likely would have cleared waivers and had to accept an outright back to Triple-A Norfolk, but the club decided to trade him instead.
Even though the organization added Gunkel to the 40-man in November in order to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft, a crowded Triple-A rotation made him expendable.
The club prioritized adding optionable arms this offseason and into spring training, adding starters Gabriel Ynoa and Alec Asher to the Triple-A rotation.
Norfolk's current rotation consists of right-handers Mike Wright, Ynoa and Asher, as well as left-handers Chris Lee and Jayson Aquino.
One of those pitchers will likely be called up Saturday to fill the rotation hole created by Chris Tillman opening the season on the disabled list. However, veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson signed a minor league deal with the Orioles last week and will likely join Norfolk after working out initially at extended spring training.
A poor showing this spring didn't help Gunkel, who posted a 9.00 ERA in three Grapefruit League innings. He allowed a .438 opposing batting average and recorded a 2.33 WHIP.
Gunkel – who was acquired by the Orioles in the June 2015 trade that sent outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the Boston Red Sox – had yet to pitch for Norfolk before being designated.
He was 8-14 with a 4.02 ERA in 28 starts between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. Last season was the first time in his four-year pro career that Gunkel reached Triple-A.