SARASOTA, Fla. -- Three days into Spring Training, the Orioles’ jam-packed pitching is about to get even more crowded. The team on Friday announced an agreement with veteran left-hander Tommy Milone on a Minor League contract.
The deal comes with an invitation to big league Spring Training, swelling the number of pitchers in Orioles camp to 36.
A nine-year big league veteran with six teams, Milone went 4-10 with a 4.76 ERA in 23 appearances for the Mariners in 2019. Only six of those were labeled starts because Milone, like fellow Mariner-turned-O’s-signee Wade LeBlanc, was primarily used behind openers as a bulk-innings pitcher for Seattle.
The soon-to-be-33-year-old has pitched for five teams over the past four seasons, posting a 5.67 ERA with the Twins, Brewers, Mets, Nationals and Mariners. The former 10th-round pick of the Nationals in 2008 is 50-47 with a 4.47 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP across 174 career games. He’ll get a chance to compete for a starting job in the back end of Baltimore’s rotation, which is wide open behind John Means and Alex Cobb.
After them, candidates include LeBlanc, Asher Wojciechowski, Kohl Stewart, Rule 5 Draft picks Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker, David Hess and O's No. 11 prospect -- per MLB Pipeline -- Keegan Akin. The Orioles might add to it with a pitcher on a Major League contract; they had multiple offers out to veteran starters by the time they opened camp earlier this week. Management had hinted at possible additions on the horizon.
“There are free agents out there that are good pitchers who would be either upgrades for us or guys who could come in and compete for depth purposes,” EVP/GM Mike Elias said on Tuesday. “We have a large camp right now, but if there are one or two guys who we think can help us, we won’t draw the line right now.”
Said manager Brandon Hyde on Wednesday: “I think there is a chance of other moves happening. We are going through our pitchers inside, and the amount of really good arms we have in camp is impressive. We want those guys to build on the valuable experience they had last year and roll into this year.”
Enter Milone, who should at least push some of those less-experienced arms. If he doesn’t crack the 26-man roster, Milone profiles as necessary depth for a team that cycled through 18 starters a year ago.