A familiar face is on his way back to Baltimore.

The Orioles completed a deal Monday to receive utilityman Tyler Nevin from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for cash, seemingly bolstering the club’s depth at the Triple-A level rather than its major league roster.

The Orioles swooped in for the versatile fielder after Detroit removed him from its 40-man roster and put him through waivers. Baltimore’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players, with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Florida, for the beginning of spring training.

Nevin, who primarily plays third base, first base and corner outfield, played 64 games for the Orioles in 2021 and 2022. Most of those came in 2022, when he hit .197 with a .560 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Nevin joined the Tigers in a for-cash deal in December 2022 and made a minor impact in Detroit. He hit .200 in 44 games for the Tigers last year.

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The Orioles haven’t made many marquee additions to their major league roster this offseason, although with so many players returning, there is an argument a notable move wasn’t necessary. The main focus has been pitching, and Baltimore addressed the absence of right-hander Félix Bautista by signing right-hander Craig Kimbrel as the presumptive closer.

While second baseman Adam Frazier departed in free agency, there is a glut of prospects waiting to break through, including No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz.

There’s already plenty of infield depth in the majors as it is, with Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías, Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg likely the main contributors between second, short and third. That could destine Nevin for a minor league role and an emergency call-up option. However, Nevin doesn’t have any minor league options remaining.

One could read the tea leaves after a minor move such as this.

Are the Orioles stacking depth infielders ahead of a trade for a frontline starting pitcher who could include infield prospects? Did the Tigers play a reverse Uno card that meant the Orioles had to pay cash to receive Nevin back, mirroring the deal Detroit pulled an offseason earlier? Or is Baltimore just weighing its options with a player the coaching staff knows well who was just designated for assignment elsewhere?

Whatever the reasoning, Nevin is back in Baltimore — for now.

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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