It’s September 1, and that means that baseball rosters have expanded. Not too long ago, this meant teams could call up as many players as they wanted from their 40-man roster, but this has been curtailed in recent years so that teams can only add two players to the roster. The Orioles made their moves on Thursday afternoon, recalling pitching prospect DL Hall from Norfolk and selecting the contract of veteran 1B/DH Jesús Aguilar.
The 32-year-old Aguilar only arrived in the Orioles organization on a minor league contract earlier this week, so if you didn’t even know he was around, that’s why. Aguilar never even reported to Norfolk. The Orioles just had him join the team in Cleveland, knowing they would activate him today. Aguilar was released by the Marlins on August 27 after a season in which he’d batted .236/.286/.388 over 113 games.
Seeing that poor performance for this season, an obvious question presents itself: Why? Aguilar adds no positional flexibility. He is another right-handed bat in the mix, but if he’s not hitting, that’s not worth much.
Presumably, the Orioles are hoping that Aguilar can find something of the form that allowed him to have a .794 OPS over the two previous seasons with the Marlins, or even his 35 home runs from back in 2018. I expect him to perform like Rougned Odor, without having been annoying us with that level of performance all year before now. If he does better than this, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Of interest to those who care about uniform number trivia, Aguilar is going to wear #99 as an Oriole. That’s what he’d been wearing with the Marlins this year. No Oriole has ever worn a number higher than #88 in the regular season before. So he’s going to hold at least one distinction, no matter what else happens.
Hall’s return is much more exciting. We’ve known since he debuted in mid-August that the Orioles were going to work on Hall as a reliever for the remainder of the season, with the goal of rejoining the team exactly today. Here we are, and here he is. In four relief outings since going back down to Norfolk, Hall has held batters to a .087 average.
Command issues are still there. Hall walked three men in two innings in his first relief outing. I don’t know what to expect from him, but if nothing else I’d rather see him get some garbage-time innings than pitchers like Rico Garcia or Louis Head.
Aguilar was not on the 40-man roster before today, necessitating a corresponding move from the Orioles. They designated infielder Richie Martin for assignment. With Joey Ortiz added to the infield mix in Norfolk, it seemed like only a matter of time before Martin would be sent packing. He never hit in the majors, or in Norfolk either. Elias’s first Rule 5 draft pick has been passed over on the depth chart by other players long before now.