Facing a midnight deadline to add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles chose to add a pair of minor league right-handed pitchers to their roster: Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright. Probably not coincidentally, those are the two pitchers who were the organization's Jim Palmer minor league pitcher of the year winners for the past two years. Wilson won in 2014, while Wright won in 2013.
Players become eligible for the Rule 5 draft at different times depending on when they were drafted or signed. Generally speaking, high school draftees are eligible four years after they are drafted, while college draftees become eligible three years after they are drafted. Wilson and Wright, both 2011 draftees for the O's who have been working as starters, become eligible because this is the fourth Rule 5 draft since their signing.
Those on the 40-man roster can't be taken in the draft. That means the Orioles have kept Wilson and Wright close to the fold. Other eligible players who weren't added to the roster include catcher Brian Ward and pitchers Parker Bridwell and Mychal Givens. The sense among Orioles reporters, including the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina here, is that the O's were high on Ward's defense but did not decide to add the 29-year-old who has only played 65 games above Double-A.
Givens, drafted in 2009 as a shortstop, was actually eligible for the first time last year, but as a fresh convert to pitching, was unlikely to stick with a team. After a year of minor league relief under his belt, he might be more tantalizing to a team. Bridwell, a 2010 draftee, is eligible for the first time. If he ever stopped walking people, he might be something. He's never pitched above High-A and has a 4.99 career minor league ERA. Those guys just aren't likely to jump to the majors and stay there.
Last year, there were only nine players taken in the Rule 5 draft. Most teams don't bother. Dan Duquette has bothered every year since he took over as GM, netting the O's Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland. If a team takes a player, they have to stick on the big league roster all year unless injured. Even if they get hurt, if they don't spend a certain number of days on the roster, the original team gets them back. Three of the nine players were kept by their new teams.
The Orioles ended up with their pick, Michael Almanzar, only after they offered him back to Boston and got him back when they traded Jemile Weeks to the Red Sox.
Adding these two pitchers leaves the O's with 37 players on their 40-man roster. They would need an open space to make their own Rule 5 selection during the winter meetings in December. If they sign any free agents in the meantime - I know, funny joke - they'd take up space too, so they have room to sign two players right now.