Five Orioles who could be unhappy

Five Orioles who could be unhappy
January 3, 2013, 11:45 am
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Buck Showalter’s third spring training is likely to feature some jockeying for roster spots, and some unhappy players. Cutdown days are never happy ones, but this spring will likely feature players who’ve contributed to the team’s success being sent down.

Here are five players who could be unhappy come April 1.

1) Jake Arrieta

Arrieta’s arm is coveted by other teams, and he’s come up in trade talks this winter. If the Orioles re-sign Joe Saunders and don’t make a trade, it may be unlikely that Arrieta makes the Opening Day roster.

It would be ironic because Arrieta was last season’s Opening Day pitcher, and he’s still highly touted.

Of course, if there’s an injury or two to one of the starters, Arrieta would be in the mix to replace them. The same holds true for the bullpen.

If he’s not traded before April, and there are no injuries, Arrieta is going to be very unhappy with the Orioles and likely to want out.

2) Zach Britton

Britton’s situation is nearly identical to Arrieta’s. They were the two leading winners on the team in 2011. Neither had much success in 2012; Arrieta because of ineffectiveness and Britton because of injury.

Once his shoulder was healed, Showalter wanted him to stay in the minors to earn his way back to Baltimore. Britton was erratic in his time last year, and barely pitched in the last few weeks of the season.

His name has also come up in trade talks, but he’s not as highly thought of as Arrieta.

The Orioles value Arrieta and Britton and won’t easily part with them, but if Britton starts 2013 in Norfolk, he’ll probably want a fresh start elsewhere, too.

3) Steve Johnson

Johnson would also compete for the fifth starter’s job if there’s no Saunders. He’ll also go against Arrieta, Britton and Tommy Hunter for a long reliever’s job, too.

He showed some versatility in starting and relieving and was a happy surprise for the team.

Unlike Arrieta and Britton, Johnson was successful in most of his outings in 2012. He doesn’t have the major league resume as the other two, but he could be a late bloomer who’s more successful in the majors than minors.

Johnson is less likely than Arrieta or Britton to be traded, and if he’s returned to Norfolk, he’d probably go less grudgingly.

4) Ryan Flaherty

Last year, Flaherty had an advantage. He was the Rule 5 draft pick, and couldn’t be sent to the minors without being offered back to the Chicago Cubs. This year, T.J. McFarland, a left-handed pitcher, who was drafted from Cleveland, has that edge.

Flaherty will have to compete with infielders Yamaico Navarro and Danny Valencia and non-roster first baseman Travis Ishikawa for a spot.

If Brian Roberts is healthy, Flaherty is less likely to make the club because Alexi Casilla would.

Flaherty’s advantage is his versatility.

5) Trayvon Robinson

The Orioles landed Robinson when they sent Robert Andino to Seattle. Robinson has had limited major league chances with the Mariners, but if Nate McLouth and Nolan Reimold split left field, he’ll probably have to take his talents to Norfolk.

Robinson doesn’t have any options left, and he could join a host of experienced major league outfielders with the Tides. Lew Ford, Steve Pearce and Jason Pridie all signed minor league contracts. Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes will likely begin their season in Norfolk, too.