RP Troy Patton has been an integral part of the Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen since their magical 2012 run, but is currently serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. Patton said he took an Adderall pill four days before the 2013 season ended as a temporary fix to improve focus and then he was tested for banned substances the next day.
“I took one because I was stupid,” Patton told the Baltimore Sun. “It was the end of the season. It was just a stupid mistake. I don’t have trouble focusing all the time, it just enhances focus in certain situations, and I was just tired, basically. I don’t want to list that as an excuse. I know I took a banned substance. It was just a poor lapse in judgment.”
A lapse in judgment or not, it could have cost him a spot on the Orioles’ roster permanently. I’m not here to argue about whether what he did was OK, though. The fact of the matter is that his suspension has made him the odd-man out and Baltimore just doesn’t have room for him when he’s eligible to return to the active roster on April 30.
The Orioles’ bullpen has been performing very well so far this season, but Buck Showalter doesn’t have the ability to make many roster moves concerning the ‘pen. Patton is out of options himself so the team must add him to the active roster when he is eligible or he’ll be placed on waivers and there’s no way that Patton would clear waivers. The only relievers that have minor league options remaining are Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz and I’d be willing to bet anything that neither O’Day nor Matusz will be sent down. It just won’t happen.
“We’ve talked about it, but until we get there, a lot of things can change between now and the 30th,” Showalter explained to The Sun. “If we had to make the decision today, it would be very tricky. We’ll see what happens between now and then.
So, assuming that the bullpen stays healthy from now until the 30th, there’s a few things that Baltimore could do. The Orioles could work out a trade to open up a spot in the bullpen for Patton (or trade Patton). Another option is that Josh Stinson gets placed on waivers; he’s been the weakest link in the bullpen so far this season and Zach Britton has shown that he can be the long-man which makes Stinson expendable. However, having three lefty-specialists (Matusz, Patton and Britton) doesn’t make much sense either.
The most likely scenario is that Dan Duquette will try to trade Troy Patton for a prospect, though. Duquette traded Luis Ayala last April to the Atlanta Braves to open up a spot in the bullpen and I would expect Duquette to do something similar again this year.