Restoring the rosters: No. 26 – Baltimore

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
Sure, there are just four teams below them here, but the Orioles’ list now is a lot stronger than it would have been a couple of years ago, and if I do a similar set of rankings in 2011, there’s a good chance they’ll rank somewhere in the middle of the pack or perhaps higher.
Rotation
Erik Bedard
Brad Bergesen
John Maine
David Hernandez
Brian Matusz
Bullpen
Jim Johnson
Arthur Rhodes
Chris Ray
Koji Uehara
Kevin Hart
D.J. Carrasco
Garrett Olson
A year ago, the rotation would have been Bedard, Maine, Olson, Hart and Josh Towers. Now there’s actual legitimate depth. Bergesen is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, and Hernandez has a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts since debuting. Matusz gets the last spot over Uehara and Chris Tillman.
There may not be a legitimate closer here, but because the youngsters can slide into the rotation, the bullpen has a lot more depth with Uehara and Hart. Carrasco and Olson get the last spots over Tillman, Hayden Penn, Radhames Liz and John Parrish.
Lineup
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
CF Jayson Werth
C Matt Wieters
DH Nolan Reimold
LF Willie Harris
SS Jerry Hairston Jr.
3B Mike Fontenot
1B Brandon Snyder
Bench
OF David Dellucci
OF Jeff Fiorentino
C Gregg Zaun
INF Augie Ojeda
Werth’s presence may surprise a few. He was a first-round pick as a catcher in 1997. The Orioles, though, soured on him when they figured out he was a long shot to last behind the plate, and they traded him to the Blue Jays for John Bale after 2000.
The lineup is decent, though the Orioles’ utter inability to develop a legitimate corner infielder is a problem. Fontenot belongs at second, not third, and first base came down to Snyder, who is hitting .275/.332/.376 in 178 at-bats since moving up to Triple-A, or Calvin Pickering.
There also weren’t many options at DH, so Reimold moves there and Harris improves the outfield defense. DHing Dellucci and playing Reimold in left was the other possibility.
The bottom of the lineup would look better if there were any possible platoonmates for Harris or Fontenot. However, Dellucci and Fiorentino are also left-handed hitters and Ojeda, a switch-hitter, is awful against southpaws.
Summary
The Orioles still have more young pitching on the way, and while the position player talent in the system doesn’t measure up, key players like Wieters, Markakis and Reimold should only improve. In two years time, Matusz and Tillman may be the aces of the staff. The organization is in better position now than at any point within the last 10 to 15 years, and it shows here.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.