SARASOTA, FLA. — The Orioles have continued their pattern of waiver claims and minor league free agents representing almost all of their offseason additions right up until pitchers and catchers reported to Sarasota on Tuesday, but executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said the camp roster could be set after Tuesday's addition of outfielder Eric Young Jr.
"I think there's a good chance that this is the camp roster, but there's a lot of players out there, as we all know," Elias said. "We're continuing to eye that, and I do feel like we have the numbers and the talent that we would want in terms of competitions for every position on the diamond. We feel good about the amount of guys that we have and the mix of guys that we have for every open spot, but certainly we're going to keep our eye on any availability to improve our organization."
Young made 60 players on the Orioles' camp roster, with his signing making him the 20th non-roster invitee. Eight of those non-roster players came from outside the organization this offseason. Nate Karns was the only major league free agent, and the team made four other additions to the 40-man roster this offseason — Rule 5 infielders Richie Martin and Drew Jackson, and waiver claims Hanser Alberto and Rio Ruiz.
Especially with a late-developing free agent market, the Orioles could use their top spot in the waiver claim priority to snag a player who is sent off the roster of a team that adds free agents during camp, too.
Elias said the relative roster stability wasn't necessarily by design, "but if we're making a move on the roster, we want to feel like we're making some incremental improvement.
"I don't want to just send guys off the roster because we're going to change things," Elias said. "There are good players here, we want to try to help players that are here. We see things with these guys that we like. We want to have spring training where kind of all of us lay our eyes on them, and it just resulted in a relatively minor winter in terms of activity.
"We also had a lot going on, and we're hiring a manager and a major league coaching staff. I didn't get in here until November. We hired an international scouting director, we're hiring analytics people. We've got infrastructure projects going on. There's been a lot, and we didn't want to make any decisions with the major league roster that we'd regret just because we were a little naive."
Still, stability on the roster doesn't make for a boring camp. The Orioles have several positions open in their starting lineup, including catcher, right field, and second base, with multiple rotation and bullpen spots open.
Manager Brandon Hyde doesn't think it's too much to ask for that to be settled by the time camp breaks with a hefty camp roster of 60 players to evaluate.
"These next six weeks are going to be really, really important," Hyde said. "We're going to dive into every single guy. Obviously, our roster is not set and I think that we're going to go on past history. Past history is really, really important. But also, to see how these guys work, and not over-evaluate their performance and their statistics in spring training, but just watching them to see how they go about their business as well as combining that with what they've done in the past. I think that that's all going to be part of the evaluation process."
Report day extras
While only pitchers and catchers were required to report to camp on Tuesday, several position players were already settled into their spring training routines.
Rehabbing outfielder Mark Trumbo (knee) has been in Sarasota working with head athletic trainer Brian Ebel for several weeks, he said, and was joined Tuesday by outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielders Martin, Zach Vincej and Chris Bostick. Position players are required to report by Sunday, with the first full-squad workout Monday.
Around the horn
Trumbo said he hit on the field Tuesday, and the next step of his rehab from knee surgery would be sprinting. He said at FanFest that his goal was to play Opening Day, though the early parts of spring would be more rehab-focused than baseball-focused. ... Elias said the team has discussed the idea of using an "opener," the new strategy of starting a relief pitcher and cobbling together a bullpen game, though not every roster is built for it and they haven't gone deep on the idea.