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Orioles pending activation of Manny Machado, Troy Patton to create roster crunch

Within the next couple of days, the Orioles will activate third baseman Manny Machado from the disabled list and lefty reliever Troy Patton from the restricted list. Who will be taken off the roster to add those players back?

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever it stops raining, the Orioles are going to activate third baseman Manny Machado from the disabled list. The time will soon come for the Orioles to activate the suspended Troy Patton from the restricted list as well. The Orioles have played 24 games and must put Patton back on the team after 25 games.

If there's another rainout Wednesday, the situation becomes even more muddied, with the 25th game being the opening game of an expected doubleheader. Would they have to add Patton between games? In any case, adding two people means that two people will soon be gone.

Before Tuesday's rainout, Machado would have been activated and put on the roster spot that was vacated by placing Chris Davis on the disabled list for his strained oblique. That spot was instead taken up by signing Steve Pearce. You may wonder what, other than reinforcing the ranks of Team Steve, the Orioles find interesting about Pearce. I often wonder that. The fact that I even have to think about Steve Pearce is puzzling. He seems like the kind of person I shouldn't have to think about at all, and yet the Orioles keep making me think about him.

The advantage of having Pearce on the roster, now that Davis is injured, is that Ryan Flaherty doesn't have to play first base every game, and neither does Nick Markakis. Jokes aside, that's good news for the Orioles, underwhelming as Pearce might be. Pearce even declined a claim by the Blue Jays on his release waivers to get the opportunity to re-sign with Baltimore. He wanted to stay here.

With Machado returning, one of the infield trio of Flaherty, Jonathan Schoop, and Steve Lombardozzi would seem to be headed for the minors. All three have options remaining. The question is who the Orioles can use the least.

Schoop has shown power and not much else, looking overmatched at third base. The switch-hitting Lombardozzi has only played second base and has done little more than hit singles. Flaherty has performed the worst at the plate, but he offers positional flexibility that the O's could use in a utility infielder, particularly with shortstop J.J. Hardy having already missed several games with minor injuries. The choice is probably between Schoop and Lombardozzi as to who should play at second regularly.

If they want Schoop to go back to the minors to learn, either to play third base or hit anything other than a fastball - preferably both - then he would be the candidate to be demoted. If they think Schoop should take his lumps at the big league level, then the Columbia kid, Lombardozzi, will probably be packing his bags for Norfolk.

Patton's return will likely squeeze someone out of the bullpen. The situation is such that basically anyone must be exposed to waivers to be removed from the roster, unless an injury should happen to occur, which is always a possibility with this front office. Only Ryan Webb has an option remaining. The Orioles probably didn't sign him for two years to send him to Norfolk for any length of time.

Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are already occupying lefty roles in the pen. Britton has done well, throwing 15.1 inning with a 1.17 ERA so far. Matusz has not done well, with a 5.40 ERA in only 8.1 innings. He is more or less the LOOGY, but it's hard to imagine the Orioles just giving up on him to return Patton to the roster.

There have been a couple of underperforming relievers, though. If I was either Evan Meek or Josh Stinson, I'd be worried about my job security given the pending move. Neither has done a good job, and unlike Matusz, the team has invested very little in their success. Meek was a non-roster invitee for spring this season. He's allowed eight runs in 10.2 innings, a 6.75 ERA. Stinson was plucked off waivers from Oakland last April. He has also struggled, allowing nine runs in 11.1 innings, a 7.15 ERA.

There has not been any bad luck for either Meek or Stinson. There has only been bad.

It's not a very likely outcome, but there is a remote chance that the O's could just decide they don't really need Patton and then activate him and cut him at the same time, paying him the rest of his $1.275 million salary to go away. We would have probably heard about that possibility from the reporters by now if it was being discussed by the team.

All things considered, it's likely either Meek or Stinson will be designated for assignment, unless someone turns out to be injured.

In summary:

Davis to DL -> Pearce re-signed
Machado activated -> (probably) Schoop or Lombardozzi optioned
Patton activated -> (probably) Meek or Stinson DFA

And that's where things stand until the next time Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette decides to spin the roster merry-go-round again.