The Orioles acquired left-hander Andrew Faulkner from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named or cash Thursday, making yet another addition to the club’s pitching stock in the form of a young arm with minor league options who they can use to keep a flexible roster in the majors.
Faulkner, 24, takes the 40-man roster spot of Dariel Álvarez, the Cuban outfielder-turned-pitcher who this spring began to work as a pitcher for the first time.
On Wednesday, however, news emerged that Álvarez suffered an elbow injury that the team fears will require Tommy John surgery. He was released a day later.
Although Álvarez becomes a free agent and can sign with any club, the Orioles hope they can sign him to a minor league deal at a lower cost to keep him in the organization, according to a source.
In a text message, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Faulkner is “young and strong and has two good [major league] pitches."
“We look forward to his contribution to our team,” Duquette said.
Over the past two seasons, Faulkner has made 20 major league appearances out of the Texas bullpen, allowing eight earned runs on 16 hits, including five home runs, in 16 1/3 innings. Early in his minor league career, he mostly started, but worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen in 2016, when he posted a 3.97 ERA in 41 outings for Triple-A Round Rock.
Faulker, an 11th-round draft pick in 2011, has a career 3.49 ERA in the minors. He was first added to Texas’ 40-man roster at the end of 2015, and used the first of his three minor league options last season. He’ll presumably burn a second this season, as the Orioles have assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk.
He’ll join a refurbished group of left-handed pitchers at the highest levels of the organization, with Vidal Nuño, Richard Bleier and Jed Bradley all representing left-handed relief options and Chris Lee and Jayson Aquino high on the starting pitching depth chart.
Álvarez had been assigned to Low-A Delmarva, where he was going to be on a pitching plan that had him work every other day and serve as the designated hitter in between. The club had long suggested his arm would be his path to the majors, as he was low on the outfield depth chart.
Álvarez debuted with the Orioles in the majors in 2015 and played in 14 big league games over two seasons, while hitting .293 with 39 home runs in four minor league seasons.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.