The Orioles quest for pitching upgrades has been well documented this offseason, with the team having been connected to Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox in trade talks as well as a few relief pitchers in free agency before they opted to sign Craig Kimbrel to be their closer.
On Tuesday morning, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported on Hot Stove that the Orioles are talking to the White Sox as well as the Miami Marlins as they look for trades to upgrade their starting rotation. With the Marlins reportedly willing to move starting pitching, the Orioles are smart to come calling.
Orioles talking to White Sox and Marlins as they look to improve rotation
The Orioles continuing to engage with the White Sox about Cease is not surprising, as they pursued him at the 2023 deadline before ultimately landing Jack Flaherty instead, and they were named as a finalist to land Cease earlier this offseason.
Cease, who is under contract through the end of the 2025 season, is the clear top of the rotation arm that the Orioles need to pair with Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez, and Cease coming to town would take some of the pressure off the pair of youngsters.
He's coming off a bit of a down year but is still a very good pitcher who strikes out a lot of hitters and is durable, having exceeded 30 starts in each of the last three seasons. He is projected to earn $8.3 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility this winter.
The Marlins are a team that has entered the fold more recently this offseason, as they appear to be willing to move one of their young starting pitchers. Jesús Luzardo, who is projected to earn $5.9 million in arbitration this offseason, has emerged as the most likely candidate to be dealt.
While less proven than Cease, Luzardo is two years younger and is under control for an extra year, not scheduled to hit free agency until the end of 2026. He would also slot at the top of the rotation with Rodriguez and Bradish, though he wouldn't be as proven of a top-tier starting pitcher. Coming off two strong seasons, Luzardo would also likely cost the Orioles a pretty penny in return.
Luzardo enjoyed another good year with the Marlins following a trade from the Oakland Athletics in 2021. He posted a 3.58 ERA, similar to his 3.55 FIP, while also putting together a 1.218 WHIP as he averaged 2.8 walks per nine and 10.5 strikeouts per nine in 32 starts and 178 2/3 innings. In the playoffs, he was rocked for three runs on eight hits in four innings in the wild card round against the Philadelphia Phillies.
While neither would come particularly cheap, both Cease and Luzardo would represent the upgrade at the top of the rotation that the Orioles have been searching for. While the group of starters are good pitchers, the rotation would certainly benefit from a high end arm like Cease or Luzardo. The next step is to pull off the trade.