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Orioles trade Webb, minor-league catcher Ward to Dodgers

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After designating right-handed pitcher Ryan Webb for assignment hours before the start of the 2015 season, the Orioles have sent the reliever to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade also involving three minor-league players.

Baltimore is sending Webb, catcher Brian Ward, and its competitive-balance draft pick (74th overall) to the Dodgers in exchange for catcher Chris O’Brien and right-handed pitcher Ben Rowen. Both newcomers will report to the minor leagues with O’Brien going to Double-A Bowie and Rowen reporting to Triple-A Norfolk.

The good news for the Orioles is that Los Angeles will assume all responsibility for Webb’s $2.75 million salary for 2015. The 29-year-old cleared waivers last week as the Orioles were trying to make space in a crowded bullpen that already has eight pitchers to begin the season.

Rowen posted a 3.45 ERA in 47 innings with Triple-A Round Rock last season. The 26-year-old right-hander pitched in eight games for Texas last season, finishing with a 4.15 ERA in 8 2/3 innings.

The 25-year-old O’Brien, son of former major league catcher Charlie O’Brien, batted .266 with seven home runs and a career-high 53 RBIs in his first full year with Double-A Chattanooga in 2014. He has thrown out 30 percent of runners trying to steal during his minor-league career.

Signed to a two-year, $4.5 million deal two winters ago, Webb pitched well in 2014 before the late-July acquisition of standout lefty Andrew Miller left him as the odd man out in a deep bullpen. The right-hander posted a 3-3 record with a 3.83 ERA in 49 1/3 innings for the Orioles.

Ward was held in high regard from a defensive standpoint, but his .642 on-base plus slugging percentage between Bowie and Norfolk last season made it clear his offense wasn’t as far along as his catching ability.

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