The Orioles didn’t make many waves this offseason, but they continued to incrementally improve their roster Thursday with a trade for a starter who can immediately make an impact.

Baltimore completed a trade with the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, with left-hander Cole Irvin the centerpiece heading to the Orioles in the three-player deal. The Athletics also included right-hander Kyle Virbitsky in the trade, receiving shortstop Darell Hernaiz in return from the Orioles.

Irvin could be the lone left-hander in Baltimore’s rotation once spring training breaks, as John Means continues to recover from Tommy John surgery and DL Hall could operate out of the bullpen. The 28-year-old threw 181 innings last season across 30 starts, recording a 3.98 ERA. That ERA would have been the second-best on the Orioles last year among pitchers who made at least 20 starts.

He’s not due to become a free agent until after the 2026 season, giving Baltimore a low-priced option that can slot directly into the rotation.

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Baltimore also received Virbitsky, a 17th-round selection from Penn State in 2021 who reached High-A last season. The 24-year-old held a 4.63 ERA in 126 1/3 innings across two minor-league levels. At 6 feet, 7 inches, Virbitsky made 22 starts last season and showed off elite command — he struck out 140 batters while walking just 30.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Irvin, the Orioles announced left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was designated for assignment.

Irvin satisfies much of what executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias still sought this offseason. During a radio appearance this week on 105.7 The Fan, Elias said the Orioles were “definitely not going to rest in terms of improving this roster before we leave for Sarasota.”

“We continue to be open to additional established starting pitchers, and we’re looking at that, whether it’s the remaining free agents — of which there aren’t many — or a trade possibility,” Elias said. “It is an area I think would be a good way of upgrading our team.”

At the winter meeting last month, the Orioles opted against paying the lofty figures many of the league’s top free-agent talents were requiring, instead adding veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson on a one-year, $10 million deal.

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Irvin, who the Phillies selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, didn’t make much of an impact in parts of two seasons in Philadelphia. The Athletics purchased his contract in 2021 and he became an innings-eater in Oakland, although he allowed the most hits (195) in the league that year.

He settled in during the 2022 campaign, reducing the number of hits allowed per nine innings by 1.1 and featuring in the 89th percentile in walk rate — he allowed only 1.8 walks per nine innings.

The two-for-one deal gives Oakland one of Baltimore’s second-tier infield prospects. Hernaiz, still 21, ranks No. 16 among Orioles prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. And while Hernaiz performed well at both Low-A and High-A ball last season, his path toward the majors is longer than other infielders in Baltimore’s system; with ample depth, the Orioles had the flexibility to part ways with one.

Hernaiz, a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft, boasted strong bat-to-ball skills. He struggled in 13 games with Double-A Bowie at the end of last year, but he reached that level because of an OPS of .832 in High-A and .852 in Low-A. Hernaiz ranked as Baltimore’s sixth-best infield prospect on MLB Pipeline.

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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