The Orioles made a series of roster moves that begins what’s expected to be another busy offseason at the bottom of the roster.
The team claimed infielder Pat Valaika off waivers from the Colorado Rockies and outrighted four pitchers — right-handers Ryan Eades, Luis Ortiz, and Tayler Scott and left-hander Josh Rogers — off the 40-man roster to Triple-A Norfolk.
Valaika, 27, made his major league debut in September 2016 with the Rockies and spent the three seasons since as an up-and-down infielder. He played a career-high 110 games in 2017, hitting .258 with 13 home runs and an .817 OPS in 182 at-bats, though he failed to replicate that in the ensuing two years, and hit .190 with a .572 OPS in 86 plate appearances in 2019.
Primarily a second baseman, Valaika played all four infield positions with the Rockies in 2019, and hit .320 with a .952 OPS and 22 home runs in 84 games in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque this season. He has one minor league option remaining, meaning he can be sent to the minors without first being subjected to waivers.
The more significant portion of the moves came with players being removed from the roster, though. All four of the pitchers spent time with the Orioles in 2019, though Rogers was recovering from elbow surgery that was a revision of his previous Tommy John elbow reconstruction.
Ortiz pitched once for the Orioles in June but struggled, and didn’t pitch at Triple-A Norfolk again after July 4 because of an undisclosed injury, ending his season there with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP in 14 starts.
The Orioles claimed Eades, 27, off waivers from the Minnesota Twins in August. He made six appearances with a 3.52 ERA for the Orioles and was used sporadically in relief, even as the team was strapped for pitching.
Scott, also 27, had four stints with the Orioles after he was claimed off waivers in late June from the Seattle Mariners. He had a 18.69 ERA, allowing 18 runs in 8 2/3 innings.
While Rogers was on the 60-day injured list and thus didn’t count against the 40-man roster, the moves clear out space for right-hander Alex Cobb (hip) to be activated from the 60-day IL once the World Series is completed, though pending free-agent designated hitter Mark Trumbo will also be coming off the roster.
Their offseason roster churn began right after the season when the team outrighted right-hander Chandler Shepherd and claimed right-hander Cole Sulser off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles have 38 players on their 40-man roster, allowing them flexibility as teams look to create space on their own rosters and next month as the team must protect a handful of prospects from the December Rule 5 draft, including pitchers Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, infielder Ryan Mountcastle, and outfielder Ryan McKenna.