What will the Orioles' 25-man roster look like?

What will the Orioles' 25-man roster look like?
January 1, 2013, 9:45 am
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It’s now 2013, and Opening Day is barely three months away. There will be moves made between now and then, but let’s take a shot at predicting the Orioles’ 25-man roster for the Apr. 2 opener at Tampa Bay.

Pitchers (12)

Wei-Yin Chen
Jason Hammel
Chris Tillman
Miguel Gonzalez
Joe Saunders
Tommy Hunter
Jim Johnson
Luis Ayala
Darren O’Day
Brian Matusz
Troy Patton
Pedro Strop

If this actually happens, it means that every pitcher will have finished 2012 and started 2013 with the Orioles.

Chen or Hammel would be the Opening Day starter. The other would start the second game. Tillman and Gonzalez would be the third and fourth starters, and if the Orioles re-sign Saunders, as I think they might, he’ll be the fifth starter. If not, I’d bet on Steve Johnson.

Despite the brave talk about Tsuyoshi Wada, I think the Orioles will be cautious with him, and he’ll begin 2013 in Sarasota, and perhaps join the team a month later, about a year after Tommy John surgery.

Tommy Hunter proved he could be an effective one-inning pitcher late last season, and I think he’d be the long man.

The rest of the bullpen returns intact. Matusz may start some games or pitch multiple innings during spring training, but he proved key in relief last year.

Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton will start the year either in Norfolk or elsewhere. The betting is that one or more will be sent away in a deal. It wouldn’t be good for their morale to have them in Norfolk for very long. If they’re unable to help the Orioles, they’d probably want to get a shot in another organization.

Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland will be given every opportunity to make the club. If the team includes Matusz in a deal, he has a chance as a second left-hander, but if there’s not a deal, he’d have to beat out Hunter, Arrieta, Britton and Johnson.

Catchers (2)

Matt Wieters
Taylor Teagarden

This one’s easy. As long as Teagarden is healthy, he’s Wieters’ backup. If not, it’s Luis Exposito, who’s still on the 40-man roster.

There’s no other major league ready catcher in the organization. Despite some talk that the Orioles would add another one this winter, they haven’t yet. 

Infielders (7)

Travis Ishikawa
Alexi Casilla
J.J. Hardy
Manny Machado
Ryan Flaherty
Chris Davis
Wilson Betemit

This will be the most interesting competition of the spring. If Brian Roberts is fully healthy for the first time in four years, he’ll start at second. If not, it will be Casilla.
Dan Duquette is very high on Ishikawa, and thinks he can be an effective offensive and defensive first baseman. If he can, then Davis will be the designated hitter most days.

Flaherty, who was on scholarship last year as a Rule 5 pick, will have to earn his way on the roster this year, but his versatility may give him the edge over Yamaico Navarro, who was obtained from Pittsburgh.

If Roberts is healthy, it’s unlikely that either Flaherty or Navarro makes it.

Wilson Betemit has a one-year contract, and he can be the designated hitter or fill in at first and third.

Danny Valencia can be a right-handed DH, but he has an option remaiining. He’s only a third baseman, so there’s not likely to be much playing time available there.

If Ishikawa doesn’t make it, Davis can play first, and Valencia’s chances to stick improve.

Outfielders (4)

Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
Nate McLouth
Nolan Reimold

If Reimold is healthy, he’ll make the ballclub either as a part-time starter or a right-handed DH. Trayvon Robinson’s best shot to start with the team comes only if there are injuries, and he’d have to compete with Lew Ford, Conor Jackson, Steve Pearce, Jason Pridie, none of whom are on the 40-man roster, and Xavier Avery and l.J. Hoes, who are.

With six weeks to go until spring training, there will be some other candidates, but there will obviously be some intriguing scrums to chronicle.