Tonight at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline for the Orioles to set their 40-man roster ahead of next month's Rule 5 draft, and the club likely will protect a couple of additional minor leaguers since their roster is currently at 37.
In their continual goal to stockpile arms, it would be a surprise if the Orioles didn't protect two pitchers they acquired last season: left-hander Chris Lee and right-hander Andrew Triggs.
Lee, 23, was obtained from the Houston Astros in May for two international bonus slots. A former fourth-round draft pick of the Astros, Lee was 3-6 with a 3.07 ERA in 14 starts at High-A Frederick and 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA in seven starts with Double-A Bowie.
Triggs, 26, was purchased from the Kansas City Royals in April. The 6-foot-4 reliever was 0-2 with 17 saves and a 1.03 ERA in 43 games with Bowie.
If they are placed on the 40-man roster, other teams will not be able to claim them in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 10.
To be eligible for that draft, a player must not be on a 40-man roster and has to have played five pro seasons (if 18 or younger on the June 5 before signing his first contract) or four seasons (if 19 or older on the June 5 before his first contract).
So, pitching prospects such as Hunter Harvey (three seasons since being drafted at 18) and Dylan Bundy (already on the 40-man) are not eligible to be drafted away in December. Left-hander Chris Jones was added to the 40-man earlier this month, ahead of the deadline.
Perhaps the most recognizable name in the Orioles organization that could be left off the 40-man tonight is right-hander Parker Bridwell, a 24-year-old right-hander who was 4-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 18 starts for Bowie in 2015. A former ninth-rounder out of a Texas high school in 2010, he has had an uneven minor leaguer career, but has long been considered a solid talent.
Former second-rounder Branden Kline, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in October, is not expected to be protected. The same goes for lefty reliever Ashur Tolliver, who pitched well for Bowie (1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 39 games) and re-signed a minor league deal this offseason.
The Orioles have done a solid job managing their protections in past years, gambling correctly, for instance, that reliever Mychal Givens would not be drafted last offseason and that catcher Caleb Joseph would slip through in the 2013 draft.
If a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft, he must stay on the drafting team's 25-man roster (or disabled list) all year or be offered back to the original team.
In other Orioles' news, third baseman Manny Machado finished fourth in the American League MVP voting that was announced Thursday.
Machado's name was on 27 of the 30 ballots submitted by The Baseball Writers' Association of America. He received 158 total points, trailing only Josh Donaldson (385 points), Mike Trout (304) and Lorenzo Cain (225).
Machado received four third-place votes, 11 for fourth, five for fifth, three for ninth and one each for sixth, seventh, eighth and 10th.
This marks the second time in the past three seasons that an Oriole has placed in the top four for AL MVP. First baseman Chris Davis came in third in 2013 after leading the league with 53 homers. Center fielder Adam Jones placed sixth in the 2012 balloting.
Davis, who led the majors with 47 homers in 2015, also received votes this year, placing 14th with 32 total points. He received five votes for seventh place and two each for eighth, ninth and 10th. Former Oriole Nelson Cruz was sixth overall with 94 points, including the lone second-place vote that did not go to Donaldson or Trout.