There are several position and roster battles taking place this spring for the Baltimore Orioles, but one of the forgotten ones has been the battle for the Rule-5 Draft Pick Michael Almanzar. The question is whether or not there is a 25-man roster spot for Almanzar on this team.
Let us quickly refresh your memory a little bit. Almanzar was selected in the MLB portion of the Rule-5 Draft this year by the Birds out of the Red Sox organization. By selecting Almanzar, the Orioles are required to keep him on the active 25-man roster all season (unless he gets injured) or he must be offered back to the Red Sox. He is just the latest pick by the Orioles in the Rule-5 Draft as they have selected at least one player in the Major League portion in each of the last three years now. Ryan Flaherty was selected two years ago and T.J. McFarland last season.
Almanzar has seen action at both third and first base this spring, but with the emergence of Jonathan Schoop, and the stellar spring of Alex Gonzalez, Almanzar has seemed to be a forgotten player. He has performed OK thus far this spring as he is hitting .214 with one home run, three doubles, and seven RBI.
Almanzar's seven RBI are good for the second most on the team, but one thing to keep in mind is that he is tied for the most games appeared with 15 and all seven RBI came in just three games. In addition, Almanzar has not recoreded a hit in 11 of the 15 games he has played.
Many thought that Almanzar would almost be a lock if Manny Machado was not ready to go for Opening Day, and now, despite the strong possibility that Machado will not be ready, we do not believe there is a spot for Almanzar on this team. He does not bring a lot of "must haves" to the club. Gonzalez would give the team a versatile veteran infielder, and Almanzar is pretty far down the list for possible right handed bats that you would want to come in and pinch hit.
Also, if the Orioles try to keep Almanzar on the roster, then it is almost going to force Manager Buck Showalter to keep 12 pitchers instead of the 13 he wants to keep due to the inefficiencies that Almanzar may bring, thus needing another bench player.
Now, let us say this, the Orioles can attempt to find a way to workout a trade with the Red Sox to keep Almanzar and he is certainly a player that has some promise and would be nice to keep in the organization. He is just 24 years old and has shown throughout his Minor League career that he does have some potential power.
If Almanzar does indeed get sent back to Boston because the Orioles cannot keep him on the 25-man roster, he will be the first in Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette's tenure here with the Birds.
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