The Baltimore Orioles have been relatively quiet all offseason, but made a couple of depth moves on Monday. The team announced that they have acquired reliever Brad Brach from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league right-hander Devin Jones and claimed infielder Cord Phelps off waivers from the Cleveland Indians.
Brach, 27, was designated for assignment by the Padres last week to clear 40-man roster space. In 33 games out of the Padres' bullpen in 2013, he posted a 1-0 record and 3.19 ERA in 31 innings, and was even more successful in the minors. With Triple-A Tucson, Brach was 4-3 with a a 2.84 ERA in 33 relief appearances. In parts of three major league seasons with the Padres, the right-hander is 3-6 with a 3.70 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9, proving that he is an effective major league reliever.
Although Brach has a remaining minor league option, the Orioles are expected to look at him as a major league-caliber fifth or sixth inning pitcher, according to MASN.com's Roch Kubatko. The team is expected to have a fierce competition for bullpen spots in spring training, with pitchers like Brach, Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland and Tommy Hunter all competing for a couple of spots.
Phelps, who is also entering his age-27 season, was designated for assignment by Cleveland and immediately placed on waivers last week. The second baseman has appeared in 53 games in the majors with the Indians since 2011, but has only mustered a .159 average with 2 HR and 11 RBI in that time. Phelps hit .267 with 9 HR and 46 RBI with Triple-A Columbus in 2013, increasing his career minor league batting average to .286. He has been ranked within Baseball America's rankings of the top 25 Indians prospects three times since 2008, and was last ranked after the 2011 season as the fifteenth best prospect in the team's system. He will head to Baltimore to provide infield depth for a team that will likely lose Brian Roberts and Alexi Casilla to free agency this season.
Jones, who was acquired by the Padres in the trade for Brach, is a 23-year old starter who spent last season with Double-A Bowie. He struggled mightily in 2013, posting a 4-7 record and 5.84 ERA in 24 starts on the year. After being drafted by the O's in the ninth round of the 2011 draft, Jones is 15-18 with a 4.47 ERA in three minor league seasons.