Orioles pursuing A.J. Burnett
The Baltimore Orioles are in pursuit of free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, who recently announced that he would be playing in 2014. It’s almost a match made in heaven in the sense that Burnett lives in nearby Monkton, MD, and he would be a veteran anchor in a rotation that desperately needs that type of presence. Burnett is a guy that would probably come fairly cheap, and he’s also proven over the last few seasons that he’s an innings eater. My personal opinion is that if it’s between Burnett and someone like Bronson Arroyo or Ervin Santana, the O’s should go after one of the latter two. However the big advantage they would have in signing Burnett is that he wouldn’t cost the team a first round pick.
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As it stands right now at this moment, I would estimate the Orioles’ rotation to be as follows (in no particular order): Tillman, Chen, Norris, Gonzalez, and either Gausman or Britton. If the O’s were to sign someone such as Burnett, Arroyo, etc, that would pressure all of the aforementioned names. I suspect that someone such as Britton or Gausman would probably be relegated to triple-A or perhaps the bullpen. However perhaps more importantly, the Orioles would have a veteran presence in the rotation, something that they’ve been seriously lacking.
I do find it interesting that neither Arroyo, Burnett, or anyone else has signed thus far to this point over the course of this week. I suspect that teams are jockeying in the sense that they don’t want to sign any of these guys too early given that as time goes on the price might go down. However if I were the Orioles I’d just focus on getting a deal done with one of them. If that means paying an extra million (or a perceived extra million), do it. Conspiracy theorists will also claim that if the Birds sign someone either today or tomorrow (or even Saturday) it would be so as to make a splash before Orioles’ Fan Fest on Saturday. However you get a contract done whenever you can in this business. Needless to say however, the O’s are definitely in on a number of starters, all of whom would improve the team.