The Orioles announced four roster moves prior to Sunday’s game with the Diamondbacks. Newly-claimed reliever Jorge Lopez has been officially activated and right-hander Austin Voth was designated for assignment to create room for Lopez on the 40-man roster.
Lopez, who was traded by the Orioles to the Twins at the 2022 trade deadline, returns to Baltimore as the Orioles look to secure a playoff berth. An All-Star in 2022 when he posted a 2.54 ERA and 23 saves between the Orioles and Twins, Lopez has struggled in stints with the Twins and Marlins in 2023, posting a combined 6.13 ERA.
Voth has a 5.19 ERA over 34 2/3 relief innings this season, with a middling 21.3% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate. His season was interrupted by a stint on the 60-day injured list, as elbow discomfort sidelined him from the middle of June to early August. In two appearances since his activation, Voth tossed two scoreless innings against the Rockies on August 27 but was then tagged for three runs over 1 2/3 frames against the White Sox on August 30.
Between the injury and the inflated ERA, it has been a tough season for Voth, who seemed to have turned a corner after the Orioles picked him up from the Nationals on a waiver claim in June 2022. Voth had been inconsistent over five seasons as a starter and reliever in Washington, but delivered a 3.04 ERA over 83 innings for the O’s last season, starting 17 of 22 games.
It is possible a pitching-needy team might put in a claim on Voth, as experienced arms are harder to come by at this point in the season, even if Voth’s 2023 numbers haven’t been up to par. If he clears waivers, the Orioles can freely outright him to Triple-A, as he doesn’t meet the requirements to reject an outright and test free agency.
The O’s signed Voth to an arbitration-avoiding $1.85M salary for 2023 and the deal contains a $2.45M club option for 2024 that looks likely to be declined. If Voth isn’t in the Orioles’ plans for 2024, Baltimore might choose to release him if he clears waivers, though keeping him as extra depth at Triple-A is also a logical move for a team in pennant contention.
Hicks returns after missing a little more than two weeks due to a lower back strain. Speaking of career revivals in Baltimore, Hicks has hit .261/.355/.440 in 155 plate appearances since signing with the O’s in late May — a big improvement over the underwhelming numbers he posted in his final three seasons with the Yankees.
Unfortunately, the injury bug has followed Hicks to his new team, as he has played in just one game since July 24 due to both his back problem and an earlier hamstring injury that also necessitated an IL trip.
Hicks will step back into the Orioles’ outfield/DH mix, and Cowser will head back to Triple-A to await his next taste of the majors. One of the Orioles’ top prospects and the fifth overall pick of the 2021 draft, Cowser has been crushing minor league pitching but has only a .433 OPS over his first 77 PA at the MLB level.