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Orioles acquire Keon Broxton, claim Chandler Shepherd

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There’s probably nothing that can make the 2019 Orioles good, but maybe they can be a little less bad.

MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

All roster moves for the 2019 Orioles are going to seem a whole lot like the classic “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” There are huge problems that cannot be fixed with a small move or two. On Wednesday afternoon, the O’s made a flurry of moves to try to find some little solution to some of their problems.

Here is what has been done:

  • OF Keon Broxton acquired from Mets for international signing bonus slot money
  • RHP Chandler Shepherd claimed off waivers from Cubs, optioned to Triple-A Norfolk
  • RHP Alex Cobb transferred from 10-day injured list to 60-day injured list
  • RHP Yefry Ramirez designated for assignment

The net result of these moves is that the Orioles have one more open 40-man roster spot than they did before. They will have to make a 25-man roster spot for Broxton in the next couple of days, but that doesn’t have to happen Wednesday and might not happen Thursday either.

The 29-year-old Broxton, chosen by the Diamondbacks in the third round of the 2009 draft, was one of those prospects who always offered just enough to show some potential while never quite realizing that potential. He hit 20 homers and stole 21 bases in 2017 for the Brewers, but he was caught stealing seven times, and the homers came with an overall .220/.299/.420 batting line. Not great.

The Mets acquired Broxton over the offseason and designated him for assignment recently, with Broxton batting just .143/.208/.163 in 34 games. Not much to be excited about there, unless you really, really want to not see any more of Joey Rickard. Broxton, a right-handed hitter who’s chiefly a center fielder by trade, could slide into Rickard’s place of a fourth outfielder role here with the Orioles. We’ll know in another day or two.

It’s been a busy week or so for the 26-year-old Shepherd, who’s gone from the Red Sox, who drafted him in the 13th round of the 2014 draft, to the Cubs to the Orioles in a matter of days. Shepherd had been used mostly in relief until last season, when he had some modest success in the Triple-A Pawtucket rotation, posting a 3.89 ERA over 129.2 innings, striking out 107 batters with 34 walks. That modest success did not carry over into 2019, where he’s had a 10.01 ERA in eight games.

Presumably, the Orioles saw enough potential in his arsenal to at least want to give a shot to polishing him into a swingman or even fifth starter. The new guys in charge must like him more than the designated Ramirez. Having seen enough of Ramirez pitching, I’m fine with the “let’s try anyone else” strategy here.

The Orioles do not have to give up anything of value to put Shepherd on the 40-man roster and let him try to improve somewhat with the Tides. It might not make any difference at all, but even in a season that was expected to not go very well, it’s nice to know that the front office is still keeping an eye on what’s happening and willing to step in to try something else when things aren’t meeting even a level of very low expectations.