The Orioles trade with Seattle for Mark Trumbo is still not official. One thing that is slightly more official is that there is a second player coming to the Orioles in exchange for catcher Steve Clevenger in the trade: left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reported on the second name. The Jake Arrieta trade tree continues to bear fruit for the O's. That was sarcasm just there.
So who is Riefenhauser? The thing that jumped out at me is that this is the second time he's been traded this offseason. He had been with the Rays and was sent to Seattle in the trade that brought Brad Miller and others to Tampa. You could spin that as a good thing because it means multiple teams want Riefenhauser. You could also spin it as a bad thing because it means multiple teams don't care about giving up on Riefenhauser.
There were reports last night that the Orioles had the option of choosing one of two players from the Mariners to complete the trade. The names floated last night were both catchers, so either the contours of the deal shifted or those people didn't know what they were talking about in the first place. This is the magic of hot stove season.
The 20th round pick in the 2010 draft came from Chipola College in Florida, which, by a strange coincidence, was also attended by Clevenger. They were not contemporaries. Riefenhauser is a few years younger, turning 26 next month. He started out in the Rays system as a starting pitcher, though he converted full time to the bullpen in the 2013 season. That decision paid off for the Rays system, as Riefenhauser carried a 0.51 ERA for Double-A Montgomery that year.
The very next year for Triple-A Durham, Riefenhauser appeared in 30 games and pitched to a 1.40 ERA. Hey, that sounds pretty good. It was good, good enough that the Rays called him up to the big leagues... where, over an admittedly small sample size of 5.1 innings of work, he got blasted for five runs. It wasn't much better at the MLB level in 2015, when Riefenhauser allowed nine earned runs over 14.2 innings.
That's how you get traded twice in one offseason.
Riefenhauser is left-handed, has a pulse, and, if I'm doing the math correctly, has a minor league option remaining. He can and probably will spend the year riding the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle, with more time in Norfolk than Baltimore. He is a 40-man player, which means the Orioles will have to send someone they don't love any more into the great DFA in the sky. There's still some dead wood on there.
While enjoying some success in the minors, Riefenhauser was working as more than just a LOOGY or even a one-inning reliever. He had 53 innings over 34 innings with Montgomery in 2013, and pitched in 57.2 innings over 39 games for Durham in 2014. So you can add "multi-inning reliever" to his potential value.
As a guy to insist on adding to the stable in exchange for taking on salary that the Mariners were looking to dump, he's probably as good as it gets. You can see where there's some potential, and also where this inclusion might end up not mattering at all. Works for me.