The time is now for the Baltimore Orioles to sign a proven starting pitcher before it’s too late.
Year after year, the Orioles always seems to be searching for a quality starting pitcher to enhance their rotation. The Orioles front office expresses their desire to acquire a starting pitcher as well, but these efforts never seem to happen until late in the offseason. This appears to be the trend once again this year.
The list of top free agent pitchers is growing shorter and shorter each day. The Orioles American League East foes, Boston Red Sox, have signed David Price to a $217 million contract. The Arizona Diamondbacks inked Zach Greinke to a $206 million deal. Even though the Orioles were never looking to spend much money on those two pitchers, they’ve lost the chance to sign former Nationals pitchers Jordan Zimmerman (signed with Detroit) or someone like Jeff Samardzija (signed with San Francisco).
Dating back to 2011 when Duquette took over the reigns of executive vice president of baseball operations, the Orioles have been quiet at the annual winter meetings in Nashville. Apart from acquiring Nate McLouth in 2012 and two pitchers from the Rule 5 Draft in 2014, there’s not much else to discuss.
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As of now, the Orioles starting pitching staff looks average at best. Chris Tillman sits atop of starting rotation, followed by Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, and Mike Wright. Tillman, the current ace of the pitching staff, didn’t have quite the year the Orioles were expecting. Earning a record of 11-11 with an ERA of 4.99 in 2015, the Orioles need better numbers from their apparent ace. Besides free agent pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, there wasn’t a starting pitcher on the team with an ERA under 4.11.
The fourth pick in the 2011 amateur draft, Dylan Bundy, has yet to start a major league game. The once phenom has only appeared in two games with the Orioles in 2012, totaling his major league innings to a mere 1.2. The following year, Bundy underwent Tommy John surgery and as of now, he’s dealing with new injuries that have shut him down in the Arizona Fall League. In 2016, Bundy will be out of options, making him a possible trade bait to acquire a worthy player.
With the winter meetings upon us, it’s vital for the Orioles to add a proven starting pitcher to help their starting rotation. There have been many reports of Orioles expressing interest in right-hander Yovani Gallardo and former Nationals right-hander Doug Fister. Also, the Orioles still have their eyes on the left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who posted the lowest ERA on the O’s starting rotation last season.
Other free agent starting pitchers are out there that offer high value for a team like the Orioles. Johnny Cueto, who recently turned down a six-year deal worth $120 million from the Diamondbacks, should be something of interest to the Orioles. Scott Kazmir, Shelby Miller, and Mike Leake are all quality starting pitchers that would bolster the Orioles starting rotation.
The Orioles likely to bring back relief pitcher Darren O’Day, signing him to a four-year, $31 million deal. With Chris Davis still atop the Orioles list of priorities, it’s projected the Orioles will not be offering a starting a pitcher a long term deal. Look for a deal in the 1-3 year range, as the Orioles seek for a starting pitcher in 2016. Maybe, just maybe Duquette has something up his sleeve and will provide a splash in free agency during the winter meeting. Stay tuned.