The Orioles haven't done much this offseason, but what they have done has gotten relievers on the roster. That trend continued on Monday as they acquired reliever Brad Brach from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league pitcher Devin Jones.
The right-handed Brach split time between Triple-A and the major leagues in 2013. He both walks and strikes out batters at Pedro Strop-ian rates, but he does not have anything close to Strop's velocity. Strop averaged 96.9 mph on his fastball in his great 2012 season, whereas Brach averages 92 mph. He is 6'6" and has already beaten the odds by making it to MLB as a 42nd-round pick from 2008. He will be 28 next April.
Brach had a decent season in terms of results in 2013, with a 3.19 ERA, but that came with a 1.774 WHIP that explains multiple mid-season demotions and also why he was designated for assignment as players were cleared out from rosters to make room for new additions. Since they were going to lose him in a few more days anyway, the Padres could demand little more than the Orioles ninth-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Jones was used exclusively as a starter this past season. He had a rough go of it in his first action in Double-A Bowie, though he did stick there the whole season. managing a 5.84 ERA in 24 starts. He is not one of the top prospects on anyone's radar and the team thinks they can get more out of Brach than they ever would out of Jones. Given the odds, they are probably right.
The trade gives the Orioles 37 players on the 40-man roster.
This is another mundane acquisition to go along with the notion that the O's would be "shuffling the deck" in the bullpen. They may not even make the roster, but there will be new faces to compete, if nothing else. Brach is a pre-arbitration eligible player who looks to have an option remaining, meaning they can stash him in Norfolk and see what he does. The Padres were ready to give up on him, but he is just the type of player the O's want to wring value from.
If Brach does well, then he makes another player expendable. If he doesn't do well, then it won't hurt them much. If he ever stops walking players, they will get that value.