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Orioles have surprise waiver wire reunion with 2022 All-Star Jorge López

Logan Gillaspie was designated for assignment, which is of little interest to anyone outside the Gillaspie clan

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
He’s back!
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Orioles claimed pitcher Jorge López on waivers today. Don’t worry, you haven’t stepped into a time portal and found yourself back in that regrettable year of 2020. It is true that the Orioles claimed López on waivers then. They’ve also done it again today in 2023.

The 2022 All-Star is back in the organization that turned López from a failed starting pitcher into an All-Star, then traded him for four pitchers, including 2023 All-Star Yennier Cano. Whew, that’s dizzying. Also, to make room for López on the 40-man roster, reliever Logan Gillaspie, lately with Triple-A Norfolk, was designated for assignment.

It’s been something of a tumultuous 13 months or so for López since the Orioles shipped him to the Twins for Cano, Cade Povich, Juan Nuñez, and Juan Rojas. He ended up with a 4.81 ERA across 60 appearances with the Twins, surely not what they were hoping for. The Twins traded him to the Marlins for another struggling reliever, Dylan Floro, who’s gone on to a 6+ ERA in his early action with Minnesota.

Not that things went better with López in Miami. The Marlins saw López pitch to a 9.26 ERA over 12 games before deciding to just dump him onto the waiver wire. The 27 teams with worse records than the Orioles did not wish to put in a claim for López’s services. The Orioles are going to try to see if a little September reunion can get López back towards something like the form he had that made him an All-Star last year.

It’s almost like Mike Elias and company can’t resist the challenge of making “additions” to the roster from outside the organization who, based on their 2023 results, don’t look like any kind of upgrade over any existing option already. It is the same basic move the Orioles made in trading for Shintaro Fujinami, and to a less dramatic extent, the same move in trading for Cole Irvin in the offseason and Jack Flaherty ahead of this year’s deadline.

Have any of these guys turned into good pitchers for the Orioles yet? No. They’ve polished López into something once before, though, so perhaps it’s not so foolish to think they will be able to do that again. I’ve heard worse ideas. There’s not much cost to the Orioles here. Just one roster spot. Probably that means Joey Krehbiel will be optioned back to the minors, which is tough luck for him. Maybe they’ll drop Austin Voth.

Now 30, López is making a return to the Orioles in what is now his eighth big league season. He has a career 5.52 ERA over 218 games pitched at the MLB level. He’s basically failed at everything he’s ever done in his big league career, everywhere he’s gone, except for the four months he was the 2022 Orioles closer.

In the event that the Orioles pull off a López revival, there’s even the possible benefit of still having him under control with an arbitration-based salary for the 2024 season. He would not be eligible for any postseason roster this season due to not being in the organization prior to September 1.

Gillaspie had a 6.00 ERA in 11 games with the big league Orioles this season. The 26-year-old righty was also sporting a 4.76 ERA at Triple-A, with a 1.486 WHIP. The Orioles can do better than that. Whether the 2023 incarnation of López turns out to be that better option is something that will probably be readily apparent after a couple of López outings. Maybe put him in low-leverage spots until it’s clear which way the wind is blowing.