The Orioles currently have a claim on one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League. And their active 25-man roster is about to get a nice boost.
According to beat writer Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, right-handed starter Jason Hammel threw five scoreless innings Saturday in his rehab debut with High-A Fredrick. He struck out seven batters, issued just one walk, and reported no abnormal pain or discomfort during or after the outing.
Hammel seems likely to rejoin the Baltimore rotation next week.
The 29-year-old had a 3.54 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 106/39 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 innings before hitting the disabled list in mid-July with a right knee injury that eventually required surgery.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.