Saturday morning thoughts: Mysterious roster move, Porcello rumors and Steve Johnson

As most fans know by now, the Orioles made an interesting move on Friday afternoon, outrighting outfielder Steve Pearce to Triple-A Norfolk.

The team signed Pearce to a major league deal last month, so it is obvious that the move was made to create space on the Orioles' 40-man roster.

What I'm hearing from the organization is that the addition won't be a big-name acquisition, but more of another kick-the-tires kind of player who executive vice president Dan Duquette has targeted this season. Think organizational depth that could contribute at the major league level at some point during the season.

Also, the rumors out of Detroit are that the Orioles have interest in trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. The rumors mention that the Tigers could be interested in Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy in return.

I've always liked Porcello. He's only 23 and would remain under team control until 2015. He's been inconsistent, but he has valuable experience and had had success as a groundball pitcher despite some hefty hit totals.

Having said that, I don't see the Orioles dealing Hardy. The root of most Hardy trade rumors comes from the idea that Manny Machado is the team's shortstop of the future. But the Orioles like Machado where he's at for now. There's no rush to move him over, especially when you have a Gold Glove shortstop next to him who can help him grow into the position. Orioles manager Buck Showalter credits much of Machado's success at third to Hardy. Breaking up that side of the infield would be dangerous.

Not to mention, Hardy is a favorite of both Showalter and Duquette. It would take a minor bounty to get him.

One other interesting nugget, I'm working on a story on Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson for next week. Talking to Showalter about him Friday, he said Johnson -- who was used as a starter and reliever last season at the big league level -- will have the opportunity to compete for a starting rotation spot this spring.

"He's going to compete for a spot in our rotation," Showalter said. "You tell me, what else does a guy have to do to get an opportunity? He came up here and he did the job. He did the job in Triple-A. His stats match up with anybody's."

Johnson, a St. Paul's product, was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA, with three of his four wins coming in starts. He pitched to a 1.10 ERA in eight relief appearances with the Orioles.

If you throw Johnson's name in there, that makes for a lot of rotation candidates come spring. Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen are locks, with Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman also likely fits, leaving Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Johnson all as strong candidates to fill out the rotation.