On the final day teams can acquire players and still have them eligible for the postseason roster, the Orioles added veteran outfielders Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn for their September playoff push.
Stubbs joined the club as a waiver claim from the Texas Rangers, while the Orioles acquired Bourn for minor leauge outfielder Jason Heinrich.
After the team announced the addition of Stubbs in the late afteroon, executive vice president Dan Duquette said shoring up the Orioles' outfield defense was the team’s main objective of the waiver trade period.
“We like Stubbs’ addition to the club, and he’ll be joining us on Friday,” Duquette said. “He gives us a good, solid, dependable defensive outfielder. He’s got very good speed, and he’s shown versatility and good capability to play center and left. And he’s also a pretty good base-stealer. It gives us a little more depth. Since we lost Joey Rickard [to a thumb injury on July 21], we’ve been looking for another outfielder, particularly one that can play center field and the other outfield positions. We think that adding Stubbs, who’s very athletic — he was drafted high, No. 8 [overall in 2006] out of Texas. He’s got great experience.”
The right-handed-hitting Stubbs was batting .259 with three home runs, six RBIs and eight steals in 39 games with the Atlanta Braves and Texas this season before the Rangers released him on Sunday. He provides cover at all three outfield positions, something the Orioles needed with Rickard out since late July with a torn thumb ligament and not much defensive depth in the outfield behind center fielder Adam Jones. While Jones has been nursing a hamstring injury for the past week, Nolan Reimold was his primary deputy in center field.
As a regular from 2009 to 2014 with the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies, Stubbs showed an ability to hit for power and steal bases, but never hit above .289 in a season and had a strikeout rate that hovered around 30 percent.
In announcing the Stubbs addition, Duquette alluded to another move while stressing the importance of adding defensive depth in the outfield. One of those moves he said he was working on proved to be Bourn.
A two-time All-Star, most recently in 2012, the 33-year-old Bourn batted .261 with a .669 OPS with 13 steals in 18 tries and three home runs while playing all three outfield positions for the Diamondbacks this season. He was released out of spring training by the Braves, then signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, but was never called up.
"He can play all three positions," manager Buck Showalter said. "Left-handed hitter, veteran guy that knows his way around. He’s got a great reputation as a teammate, and a professional, and brings some things we are in need of — that we have been for a while with Adam [dealing with a hamstring injury]. I am hoping Adam is ready to play Friday, but we've got to prepare for if he isn’t. And Nolan [Reimold] has done a serviceable job for us, but it’s a place we would like to be a little better at if possible. And he and Stubbs both provide that experience there."
Wednesday was the final day players can be acquired via trades if they’re passed through or claimed off waivers and still be eligible to play for a team in the postseason.
Stubbs took the 40-man roster spot of left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who the Orioles acquired Wednesday afternoon from the Pittsburgh Pirates and subsequently designated for assignment. Rickard went on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Bourn on the 40-man roster.
If Lobstein passes through waivers and remains in the organization, Duquette said he’d still be available to be on the club’s postseason roster, which he indicated was the ultimate goal of the move.
“At this time of year, there’s a lot of players moving around with the deadline,” Duquette said. “Not only do you get your team ready, but you get your roster ready in the event that you advance to the playoffs. You’re trying to acquire players to add to your club but also to make your roster better so you can make the right choices if you’re successful and make it to the playoffs. That’s what we’re trying to do with Lobstein.”
Lobstein was acquired for Triple-A left-hander Zach Phillips, and the Orioles designated left-handed reliever Ashur Tolliver for assignment to create a 40-man roster spot for him to kick off a volatile time at the back end of the roster.
In addition to the waiver deadline, the Orioles also might add several players who aren’t on the 40-man roster as Sept. 1 call-ups, when rosters expand. Duquette said they’d add “a couple,” including Stubbs, immediately, with more coming when minor league seasons end Sept. 5.
Lobstein had a 3.96 ERA in 14 relief appearances with the Pirates this season, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 24. He has spent most of the year at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he shuttled between the rotation and bullpen with a 4.11 ERA in 19 appearances (six starts). He was designated for assignment Tuesday by Pittsburgh.
Lobstein, a former Tampa Bay Rays farmhand who ended up with the Detroit Tigers in 2012 via the Rule 5 draft, spent parts of two seasons in the Tigers rotation with a 5.33 ERA. Phillips had a 4.45 ERA at Norfolk.
Showalter said he hopes Tolliver “clears and stays with us” once he’s exposed to waivers. Tolliver has made five appearances with the Orioles since debuting in May, allowing three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
FoxSports.com first reported the Stubbs addition, and that the Bourn move was close.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.