I would submit that the need for the Baltimore Orioles to sign a starting pitcher became much greater and thus much more urgent yesterday. Boston’s Ryan Dempster announced that he was not going to pitch in 2014, citing both health and personal reasons. (Speaking for myself, it sounded a lot like a retirement, but time will tell.) Dempster, who will be placed on the restricted list, will forfeit his salary of $13.25 million – so I suppose given that he must have really labored over this decision. I will say that in my humble opinion this is a move that kind of leaves his team high and dry in a sense. If he would have done it months ago that would have been one thing; but…as spring training is getting underway?
That aside, multiple outlets are saying that Boston will be looking at a veteran free agent pitcher, but one that might be able to start the year at triple-A and act as depth. However unless they’re looking at signing someone north of 40 or so, I highly doubt that they would find someone that would in effect sign a minor league contract. Which also tells me that idea is merely smoke in mirrors.
So suddenly a big spender might be on the prowl for a veteran starter, and they in theory will be picking from the same pile as the O’s. If I were Dan Duquette, I’d think about getting someone
into camp if in fact they’re serious about getting another starter. Ironically the Orioles’ Suk-min Yoon probably would have been the perfect signing for Boston given the sudden need for more pitching depth, but he’s going to be in Baltimore for at least the next three years. However the price of the likes of Santana or Jimenez have probably now gone up for Duquette and company. The Orioles might well have to outbid their AL East rivals, which would be no easy task.
However people should also recognize that while Boston’s pockets appear at times to be bottomless, the other side of this coin is that they suddenly have $13.25 million to spend for this season. How ironic is it that the Yankees had so much salary with which to play after ARod’s suspension, and now Boston finds themselves in a somewhat similar situation as a result of Dempster stepping aside? (I would point out that if MLB had a salary cap like the NFL did that salary would still count against the cap, but that’s another story.)
So yes, I’m saying that the time should probably be now for the Orioles to make a decision. And I saying that the demands of guys like Santana or Jimenez should be allowed to be endless? No, not in the least. But the Orioles will have to be a bit more accommodating given the giant that might potentially be lurking in the marketplace for starting pitching. Again, Boston is maintaining that they’re going to go after someone that might be able to start out in triple-A. However in no way do I take that at face value. Hopefully Dan Duquette doesn’t either.