There have been a lot of little reminders since Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde took over the Orioles that there are new people in charge. On Wednesday afternoon, we got another reminder as the Orioles designated last year’s Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo for assignment. With an open space in the bullpen, they selected the contract of reliever Matt Wotherspoon from Triple-A Norfolk.
Araujo was most recently seen by Orioles fans immediately blowing the no-hitter that he inherited from David Hess in Monday’s win over the Blue Jays. He was one of Dan Duquette’s last wave of Rule 5 picks, the only one to last the 2018 season, although they buried him on what was then called the disabled list for so long that he still needed another 17 days this season to have his rights transferred fully to the Orioles.
It tells you a lot about what Elias thinks of the potential of Araujo that he was sent packing with only another 11 days or so needed until the Orioles can option him. Although Araujo is now 25, he had barely pitched above the High-A level when the Orioles used a Rule 5 pick on him two winters ago. He posted a 7.71 ERA in 28 innings across 20 games last season, striking out 29 batters but walking 18 and surrendering nine homers.
What good is it to be able to option a pitcher if you know you are never going to want to call him up again? For Elias, it seems that there is no good. He would rather have the 40-man spot taken up by someone he might actually want to recall from time to time.
Enter Wotherspoon, a 27-year-old righty who spent the last couple of seasons with Norfolk as a swingman and was ticketed for that roster before the Orioles decided they needed him.
The reality is that Wotherspoon’s stay may be short. With Alex Cobb set to come off the injured list for Thursday’s home opener, someone will be optioned tomorrow. One day in the big leagues is more than most of us will ever get, and with Wednesday being an opener/bullpen game, Wotherspoon might find himself pitching in MLB to eat a couple of innings today.
Across three Triple-A seasons between the Yankees and Orioles organizations, Wotherspoon has posted a 3.61 ERA in 72 games, with 165 strikeouts in 157 innings. He performed much better in seasons where he was used exclusively as a reliever. He is not someone the Orioles would rather get stretched out in Norfolk’s rotation. And so here he is. Good luck to him for however long he remains with the Orioles.