What to make of the Orioles Friday roster moves

The Baltimore Orioles had an off-day yesterday, but the team’s news cycle didn’t slow down at all. On Friday afternoon the Orioles made an addition to their starting rotation, reclaimed a pitcher off waivers, and designated another Rule 5 pick for assignment.

The most noteworthy move made on Friday is adding seven-year veteran Dan Straily to the starting rotation. Straily, 30, has big-league experience with the Athletics, Cubs, Astros, Reds, and Marlins. Over the last two seasons he started 56 games for Miami. In 132 Major League starts (142 appearances) he carries a lifetime 4.23 ERA and a 1.276 WHIP.

Straily was released by the Marlins at the end of Spring Training. According to Orioles general manager Mike Elias, it made all the sense in the world to pursue him.

“We pursued Dan Straily immediately once he became available,” Elias said. “He’s the type of accomplished Major League starter who will help stabilize our pitching staff. We are hoping to work him into our rotation soon.”

Straily isn’t a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, but he joins Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb as veterans who can set an example for Baltimore’s young pitchers. Cashner and Cobb make up a respectable set of starters, but beyond that there’s a lot to be desired.

There’s reason to be concerned over Nate Karns and Dylan Bundy‘s longevity. David Hess is an exciting young arm but will surely face some growing pains this season. Adding Straily gives the Orioles a cushion in their rotation while prospects like Josh Rogers, Yefry Ramirez, Gabirel Ynoa, and others develop at Triple-A Norfolk.

To make room for Straily on the 25-man roster, the Orioles designated utility player Drew Jackson, for assignment. Jackson only appeared in three of the Orioles seven games so far this season, starting once in center-field. He did not record a hit in three at-bats, but he walked once.

Just over a week after he made his big-league debut, Jackson becomes a free agent. The Orioles traded international slots to the Phillies for Jackson in December. Because Jackson was picked by Philadelphia in the December Rule 5 Draft from the Dodgers, he will return to the Los Angeles organization if he clears waivers.

This move is somewhat puzzling. The Orioles gave the impression that Jackson would fulfill a Ryan Flaherty-like utility role, but ultimately they didn’t have a place for Jackson.

There’s a few seasons for this. Dwight Smith Jr. has played better than expected in left field. Joey Rickard has experience and can play all three positions. The verdict is still out on Cedric Mullins, but he will get opportunities. Chris Davis is blocking Trey Mancini from playing first base every day, forcing Mancini to spend a lot of time in the outfield.

Brandon Hyde’s staff seems to like Richie Martin at shortstop and Rio Ruiz at third base. Simply put, there’s not a lot of leeway for Jackson, and the Orioles probably felt it would be better to give him a shot elsewhere instead of sitting on the bench.

“It was tough taking Drew off the roster,” Elias said. “His versatility has always been attractive and he has shown tremendous effort and had a great attitude. He has a bright career ahead of him. We simply decided we wanted 13 pitchers for the foreseeable future and had to make a tough call. It is never easy to carry Rule 5 picks all year.”

Reclaiming Araujo is somewhat confusing too. Because Araujo was selected by the previous Orioles regime in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, you can’t help but wonder why the Orioles brought him north only to release him after his first appearance of the season and then reclaim him.

Araujo’s lone appearance occurred on Monday in Toronto when he relieved Hess, who had a no-hitter going through 6.1 innings. Araujo immediately walked Justin Smoak and then Randal Grichuk hit a home run off him for Toronto’s first hit of the night. Araujo’s 2019 ERA sits at 27.00 after two thirds of an inning.

Araujo’s big-league career to-date hasn’t gone well. In 20 relief appearances last season, Araujo pitched to a 7.71 ERA in 28 innings before spending the rest of the season on the injured (then called the disabled) list. The way in which the Orioles have moved Araujo around their organization has been confusing this year, but hopefully hitting the reset button and going to Bowie turns things around for him.

Even though Friday didn’t include any live Orioles baseball, the warehouse functions don’t stop operating during off-days.

Image Credit: Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

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