SARASOTA, FLA. — After making four acquisitions in a seven-day span, the Orioles have addressed their needs for starting pitching and a left-handed-hitting outfielder.
The club left some lockers in the main clubhouse open — sending some players with no service time to the auxiliary clubhouse — with the idea that they would be filled by signings early in camp.
And now as the Orioles get their feet wet at Ed Smith Stadium with a four-inning intrasquad game Thursday on the eve of their Grapefruit League opener, their camp roster is now at 63 players.
The Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year deal, brought in outfielder Alex Presley on a minor league deal, re-signed right-hander Chris Tillman to a one-year pillow contract and signed Colby Rasmus to a one-year minor league deal.
In the cases of Cashner, Tillman and Rasmus, the Orioles were long interested in all three players. The team gauged Tillman’s interest in returning the day the 2017 season ended. The Orioles had been interested in Cashner as a trade target for years when he was with the San Diego Padres. And heck, manager Buck Showalter visited Rasmus’ home in Alabama two offseasons ago.
So in a lot of ways, the past week is a realization of Orioles wish lists of the past. While it took the team until now to sign them, the club always saw promising futures with all three.
Rasmus, 31, is expected to participate in his first workout with the Orioles on Thursday. Cashner, 31, and Tillman, 29, are both throwing bullpen sessions, but there’s no word on when they will pitch in games. They aren’t expected to get too many innings in Grapefruit League games, especially against American League East opponents or the Minnesota Twins, the team the Orioles open the season against.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette looks to improve his roster throughout the year, but after this recent flurry of activity, all indications are that this is the team the Orioles intend to move forward with.
As Duquette said Wednesday, he’d rather see how left-handed Rule 5 draft pick Nestor Cortes Jr. looks than pursue a left-handed pitcher. There’s really one free-agent pitcher with big league experience anyway in Francisco Liriano.
Also, as right-hander Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn remain available, the Orioles have checked in but don’t see a match unless they can be had on deals of no more than two years.