O's swap reliever Ohman for VandenHurk
Move helps club rebalance bullpen with more long relief
KANSAS CITY -- President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail made it clear in the past few months that the last-place Orioles weren't going to partake in any salary dumping and would look only at moves that improve the club in the long term.
Content to hang on to versatile infielder Ty Wigginton, the Orioles traded two of their veteran free-agent signings, sending Miguel Tejada to San Diego on Thursday and lefty specialist Will Ohman to Florida just minutes before Saturday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. The pair of moves wasn't so much about the return -- Double-A right-hander Wynn Pelzer for Tejada and Minor League pitcher Rick VandenHurk for Ohman -- as it was about who would be taking the veterans' places.
"The primary motivation was to get Josh Bell back up here," MacPhail said of the 23-year-old switch-hitting prospect who assumed Tejada's roster spot and officially took over third base duties Saturday.
Moving Ohman -- who was on a one-year Minor League deal -- opens a roster spot for lefty prospect Troy Patton, who will join the Orioles for Sunday's finale in Kansas City. Patton has been starting for Triple-A Norfolk, but he is expected to assume a long-relief role and help eat some innings in an overworked O's bullpen.
"To have too many guys in that bullpen that are just one-inning or fraction-of-an-inning guys really wasn't a good match, given the fact that we have a lot of our starters turning the ball over in the fifth or sixth inning and, in some cases, earlier," MacPhail said. "This is sort of an easy first move for us. Troy's on the 40-man [roster]; we want to get a look at him in the bullpen."
Although Wigginton was thought to be the Orioles' best trade chip, given his ability to play multiple positions and provide a powerful right-handed bat, his status waivered when the Rangers -- considered the front-runners -- acquired Jorge Cantu from the Marlins.
"We took the position that if [trading Wigginton] made sense for us, we were going ahead," MacPhail said. "The market in this particular case at this particular time just dried up."
Wigginton, who was well aware of the trade rumors, said he wasn't disappointed to still be in Baltimore and was looking forward to playing out the rest of the season.
"It's not [a letdown] at all," said Wigginton, who has enjoyed a resurgent year, including his first All-Star appearance. "You hear the rumors, and like I said all along, I've heard rumors my entire career, every single year at about this time. More times than not, it doesn't happen."
It didn't look like anything would happen after Tejada's trade, but the O's and Marlins reached an agreement right at the deadline, giving the Orioles long-relief and starting insurance in VandenHurk, who has been up and down in the Marlins system for three years.
"Two short left-handers out of the bullpen [in Ohman and Michael Gonzalez] with the way our starting pitching has been going is really a luxury that we probably couldn't afford at this stage," MacPhail said.
"Will will be a free agent at the end of the year, so we always have the opportunity to talk to him again in the future. We had the opportunity to pick up a pitcher who has been of interest to us for the last several years. It just looked like something that made sense to both parties."
The 25-year-old VandenHurk will report to Triple-A Norfolk and be inserted in the Tides' rotation. He went 8-4 with a 4.68 ERA in 19 starts with Triple-A New Orleans and appeared in two games out of the bullpen for the Marlins.
As for Ohman, he will fly to San Diego to meet the Marlins, a group hopeful that the veteran can help fill a void.
"[I] got another 24 friends picked out for me in South Florida," Ohman said. "So, [I'll] go find out if they like me."
Over the next month, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players have already cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the worst record.
At that point, a team has 48 hours to try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can be pulled back from waivers only once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.