If there's one thing that the start of free agency means, it's that teams have a lot of roster room. When Orioles GM Dan Duquette has roster room, there's only one thing to do. Hit the waiver wire. As other teams clear space, Duquette will gobble up any interesting player he sees. On Friday afternoon, he struck again, and the Orioles received Pat McCoy, a lefty reliever, from the Tigers.
McCoy is a 26-year-old who was originally drafted by the Nationals in the 10th round in 2007. He signed with the Tigers as a minor league free agent this past year and ended up being called up for a couple of different stints. He made his MLB debut on June 22. Across the whole season, McCoy appeared in 14 games and pitched for 14 innings. He had a 3.86 ERA in that time, inflated largely due to one outing against the Rockies where he gave up three runs while recording no outs, or, as I like to call it, the Joba Chamberlain.
That 3.68 ERA sounds decent enough, although he walked 13 guys in those 14 innings and also gave up 21 hits. Not much surprise that someone like that ended up on the waiver wire.
When he wasn't at the MLB level in 2014, McCoy spent some time at both Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. At the latter stop, he pitched to a 2.59 ERA in 31.1 innings over 21 games.
This being the offseason and Duquette being Duquette, this waiver claim could end up meaning absolutely nothing. Last offseason, players the Orioles claimed on the waiver wire included Cord Phelps, Jimmy Paredes, and Liam Hendriks. None of these three players were still on the 40-man roster by Opening Day, with Paredes heading to the Royals on another waiver claim. The Orioles did get Paredes back later in the year for cash considerations.
Still, with the O's dropping a lot of 40-man spots due to departing free agents, there's little harm in grabbing whoever becomes available. It's not like they need to keep those spots free to re-sign Joe Saunders. Maybe McCoy makes it to spring training and shows them something good, or maybe he just shows he's an easy pick to designate for assignment. For Duquette, there is value in having 40-man fodder that can be removed at the drop of a hat.
Think of it as like having another Brian Matusz, only without all of the baggage of being a near-total failure of a high first round draft pick. So not really like Matusz at all. For one thing, he didn't give up even a single home run in those 14 big league innings.
In the Orioles press release announcing the move, they highlight that across the three levels McCoy pitched last season, he held lefty batters to a .208/.276/.299 batting line. There's your party line on McCoy, and best case scenario: A lefty who can get out lefties.
MASN's Roch Kubatko notes that McCoy has an option remaining, meaning that if the Orioles want to use him, he can ride the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle all year. With the way the Orioles use their roster space, that has value to the team, too.
This is the first of the offseason's small acquisitions by Duquette. Knowing him, it won't be the last. The only question is when the next one will come.