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Hunter Harvey claimed on waivers by Giants as Orioles make further roster cuts

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The Orioles 2013 first round pick was supposed to be the next big thing. Now he’s the latest thing that never worked out here.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

This has been a week of surprise low-key roster moves from the Orioles. They snuck in another one by putting former first round pick Hunter Harvey on waivers, which was revealed on Friday afternoon when news crept out that the Giants claimed Harvey from the Orioles. Later on Friday, the Orioles announced several more cuts: catcher Nick Ciuffo and pitcher Spenser Watkins cleared waivers and were outrighted to Norfolk, while pitcher Chris Ellis cleared waivers and is now a free agent.

Harvey, who turns 27 next month, was already off of the 40-man roster since he ended the season on the 60-day injured list. He was one of five Orioles who still remained on the 60-day IL, along with Keegan Akin, Jorge López, Jorge Mateo, and DJ Stewart. Teams cannot stash players on the IL over the offseason and those players must be added back to the roster.

The Orioles chose to try to pass Harvey through waivers rather than add him back onto the roster. Perhaps they thought he would sneak through without getting claimed, or perhaps they didn’t care. If they believed he might make it, they were almost right. The Giants were 29th of 29 teams in waiver claim priority, by virtue of having the best record in MLB in the 2021 season. There are 28 teams who could have claimed Harvey before them and all 28 of those teams passed.

Here is a quick experiment that we’re going to run on the honor system. How many innings do you think, without looking it up, that Hunter Harvey pitched with the Orioles at the MLB level? Recall that he was the team’s top pick in the draft all the way in 2013. That was so long ago that it was Dan Duquette’s second draft as GM. He has been on the radar for a long time.

Harvey pitched his way to near-universal top 100 prospect status within 18 months of being drafted, not bad at all for a #22 pick. That was before all the injuries piled up, before he was reduced from a starter prospect to a reliever prospect, before the injuries kept happening to prevent him from ever even settling into a relief role.

The answer is that Harvey pitched 23.2 innings for the Orioles. That’s it. He got in 6.1 innings from mid-August to mid-September in his debut season in 2019 before being shut down. He threw 8.2 innings in the shortened 2020 season and another 8.2 innings in 2021 before his season ended early due to injury. He has never been healthy enough in the Mike Elias era for the Elias decisionmakers to believe Harvey might be a future anchor in the bullpen, and by putting Harvey on waivers along with forgettable roster filler we have an idea that think they had waited long enough.

It is funny for a 107-win team to be dumpster diving from a 110-loss team. Maybe the Orioles will look stupid for this one, or maybe Harvey will just never be healthy.

Ciuffo, Ellis, and Watkins are all future names only to be remembered on Sporcle quizzes by the most unhealthily dedicated of Orioles fans. Watkins, 29, had an 8.07 ERA in 16 games. He made his MLB debut with the O’s this season. Ellis, also 29, made six starts and had a 2.49 ERA, but he averaged fewer than five innings per start and had a 5.52 FIP. Ciuffo, 26, appeared in two games for the O’s.

Between Ciuffo going on waivers today and the previously reported dumping of Pedro Severino onto waivers, there are no catchers on the Orioles 40-man roster. This will surely be addressed between now and Opening Day.

Counting the four players still on the 60-day injured list, the Orioles have 31 players on the 40-man roster. I expect those four IL guys will all make it back, but then, I thought the same about Harvey. They will have roster space to protect as many Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects as they deem worthy - I’d guess six players. Then they can even get crazy and sign a free agent if they want. More likely they will just spend the offseason churning waiver claims and maybe, if there’s not a lockout, making a Rule 5 pick or two themselves.