Hunter Harvey’s Orioles career came to an end on Friday as the former first-round pick was claimed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants, the team announced.
Harvey, whose career began with incredible promise but was derailed by injuries, was the Orioles’ 2013 first-round pick and dominated in his pro debut at Low-A Delmarva the following summer. But he went on the injured list with elbow soreness that July and never got his career back on track.
After he returned from a leg fracture from a line drive suffered in spring training in 2015, his arm soreness cropped up again and he eventually had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2016.
When he returned in 2018, he suffered a shoulder injury avoiding a line drive headed his way in the dugout at Double-A Bowie. By 2019, he moved to the bullpen and finally made his major league debut and looked like he belonged as a hard-throwing reliever, though he was shut down with arm soreness that September.
His 2020 was cut short by more arm soreness, and this spring training, he had an oblique injury that kept him out until July. He returned to pitch briefly but suffered a lat strain that ultimately ended his season.
The Orioles and manager Brandon Hyde were always tantalized by Harvey’s potential, but in their offseason roster culling tried to pass him through waivers to create a 40-man roster spot in lieu of activating him from the 60-day injured list. By virtue of having baseball’s best record and being in the National League, Harvey reaching the Giants on waivers means the other 28 teams passed on him, and the Orioles’ gambit nearly worked out.
Players who ended the year on the 60-day injured list must be activated three days after the end of the World Series. Harvey was one of five Orioles remaining on that list, including infielder Jorge Mateo, pitchers Keegan Akin and Jorge López and outfielder DJ Stewart.
The move came as part of a significant roster culling for the Orioles, who also announced that catcher Nick Ciuffo and right-hander Spenser Watkins had cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Earlier in the week, they outrighted three players who elected free agency — catcher Pedro Severino and right-handers Marcos Diplán and Conner Greene — and announced Friday that the same occurred with right-hander Chris Ellis, who made six strong starts for them last season.
The moves leave the Orioles with a 40-man roster that includes just 27 players and no catchers.
Should all four of the remaining 60-day injured list players be reinstated to the roster, the Orioles will have nine open spots to protect players from next month’s Rule 5 draft.