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2016 Orioles Spring Training Preview: Position Battles

February 15, 2016

As of the start of camp, the O's will have about 20 players they can pen onto the projected roster in ink. Still, a handful of roster spots are yet to be settled and will be open for auditions at camp.


At the beginning of the offseason, it seemed a sure bet the Orioles would add at least one established starting pitcher to a rotation that struggled in 2015, especially with lefty Wei-Yin Chen departing in free agency. But as of press time, the only starters the O's added were a couple of lower-tier arms: right-hander Vance Worley, a journeyman whom they claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates Oct. 20, and righty Odrisamer Despaigne, a swingman acquired from the San Diego Padres Feb. 4.

MLB 2015: Odrisamer Despaigne

Worley, who has a career 3.79 ERA during 104 games (81 starts), figures to have first dibs on the fifth starter's job, but he's not a lock. Despaigne could make a strong case if he's able to replicate his strong 2014 season (3.36 ERA during 16 games) rather than his forgettable 2015 (5.80 ERA during 34 games). Homegrown righties Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson, both of whom debuted with the Orioles in 2015, will also compete for the job in spring training. Wright began his career with 14.1 scoreless innings but fell apart during his next seven starts, while Wilson posted a solid 3.50 ERA during nine games but didn't miss a lot of bats.


This is the second straight year the O's will enter camp without knowing who their starting right fielder will be. After letting Nick Markakis leave in free agency following the 2014 season, the O's cycled through 12 different right fielders in 2015, with none making more than 38 starts.

Orioles 2015: Nolan Reimold (swinging)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

This year could be a similar story. Longtime Oriole Nolan Reimold could have a leg up on the competition, thanks to his on-base skills, but his ability to stay healthy is far from a sure thing. Rule 5 draft pick Joey Rickard could see some starting time as well, if his minor league OBP (.390) and speed (73 steals in 96 attempts) transfer to the bigs. Rookie Dariel Alvarez -- who has some pop and a strong arm -- is also in the mix, as are Henry Urrutia, Efren Navarro and non-roster outfielder L.J. Hoes. Davis and designated hitter Mark Trumbo could make some spot starts in right, though neither is good enough defensively to be a season-long solution.


Barring injury, six spots in the Orioles' bullpen appear to be set already: lefties Zach Britton and Brian Matusz and right-handers Darren O'Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Dylan Bundy. That leaves one spot available for the Birds, who typically use a seven-man bullpen.

Orioles 2014: T.J. McFarland (glove)
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

The O's could go a number of different directions. T.J. McFarland would give the Orioles a long reliever and an extra lefty, or the Birds could shift one of the losers of the fifth starter's competition -- Worley, Despaigne, Wilson or Wright -- into a relief role. Right-hander Chaz Roe, who had two strong months for the Orioles in 2015 before tailing off at the end of the year, remains on the 40-man roster, as do righties Jason Garcia and Oliver Drake, who broke into the majors in 2015.

See Also

Issue 218: February 2016