Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he has the Opening Day roster set in his mind, but at this time of year, the team is closely monitoring its options for players who can come in and help off the waiver wire.
“I don’t have anything undecided right now, but some variables come into play that changes [that],” Showalter said. “I don’t want to make where we are right now apparent, because it could change.
“We all know what’s floating around the waiver wire right now. There’s a lot of good players that people just couldn’t carry. There’s a name that comes across, seems like every half hour, that we consider."
In recent days, players like outfielder David Murphy have generated interest from the Orioles. Murphy had an opt-out with the Boston Red Sox and fits the profile of the left-handed outfield bat that the Orioles could lack without Hyun Soo Kim on the Opening Day roster.
The Orioles can add a player to the 40-man roster with the spot opened up by Miguel Gonzalez's release. But beyond that, they have little flexibility and would have to knock a player off the 40-man. Considering the last two players they did that with—reliever Andrew Triggs and left-hander Chris Jones—ended up on other clubs, there may not be an easy decision for that.
They’d also have to replace someone currently slated for the major league roster, something Showalter said is difficult to do.
“It’s always tough this time of year,” Showalter said. “You’ve got somebody you’ve been with all spring, and feel like you’ve got a pretty good feel for it and taking somebody that someone feels like is that much better, potentially. That’s a tough call. It really is. We look at all of them as we come across. I like the guys we got. I like where we are.”
Showalter has said he’s confident with how his pitching will be constructed come the Sunday noon roster deadline.
Difficult decisions could be coming on swingman Vance Worley, who is out of options, and reliever Chaz Roe. It’s unclear whether the Orioles could keep all of them plus left-hander T.J. McFarland with an expected bullpen of Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens, Brad Brach, and Dylan Bundy. They also cannot option left-handed reliever Zach Phillips, who is seen as insurance until left-hander Brian Matusz (back) is healthy.
There aren’t as many decisions required for the bench. If catcher Matt Wieters (elbow) is fully healthy, Caleb Joseph slides into the backup role in what will likely be a time-share behind the plate. Ryan Flaherty will be a utility player who can back up in left field, where presumably whomever of Joey Rickard or Nolan Reimold doesn’t start will be the backup outfielder. That could leave a spot for a non-roster invitee such as shortstop Paul Janish, unless the team opts for a three-man bench to begin the season.
The Orioles still have 38 players in major league camp, including six non-roster invitees.