Baltimore Orioles Seek Pitching This Offseason


Sep 19, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (16) talks with pitching coach Dave Wallace (37) in the dugout during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Many in Birdland know that Chris Davis is going to be a free agent next season and he is the top priority to re-sign this offseason, according to Dan Duqette. However, Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O’Day will also become free agents. Despite Davis being potentially a huge loss, the Orioles need to build their pitching staff.

Dan Duquette was adamant about the need of starting pitching in Monday’s season-ending press conference:

"“We gave up 100 more runs so our offseason we need to focus on a stronger pitching staff. I know we’ve got plenty of free agents to sign, but any informed analysis of a team, is you’ve got to have a good pitching staff. That’s where it starts and that’s where we’re going to put our focus in the offseason.”"

Although the Orioles had the fifth-lowest ERA for relievers (3.21), their starting pitching didn’t fare nearly as well. The Orioles had the 25th-ranked ERA (4.53) as a starting pitching staff. This is a far cry from their 12th-ranked starting staff from 2014, which had a 3.61 ERA.

One potential move the Orioles could make is to re-sign Wei-Yin Chen. Chen has been a consistent left-handed starter for the Orioles, posting a 46-32 record, 3.72 ERA and 706.2 innings over the course of his four years for the O’s. This could be a very high-priced option. Chen’s consistency, coupled with the fact that he is a left-hander and Scott Boras client, may push him out of the Orioles price range.

Chen also had some interesting comments to make about his upcoming free agency:

"“I will be happy if I get given the chance to come back here, but sometimes as a professional player, sometimes it’s inevitable that you have to change teams and adapt to a new environment.”"

With pitchers such as David PriceTim Lincecum, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir, becoming free agents, will the Orioles make a big splash?

Jun 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as if this is going to be a tough task for the Orioles. Given their track record, they have rarely gone outside of the max of three years for a pitcher, save for Ubaldo Jimenez, who commanded a four-year, $50 million deal before the 2014 season.

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Furthermore, the Orioles spending cannot keep up with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals. The Orioles are currently ranked 17th in payroll. With that in mind, the Orioles are going to have to find more realistic options.

However, Dan Duquette also refutes this claim that they don’t have the funds to bring in a top-of-the-line starting pitcher:

"“If we are going to improve our pitching staff we’re gonna have to add to our pitching staff. You’d love to have a top of the rotation starter. We’re gonna have to develop players we have and we could look at the trade market. So do we have the resources to have a good pitching staff? Yes.”"

As for the more realistic options, pitchers like Mat Latos and Josh Johnson could be the players that the Orioles covet during the offseason. Although they aren’t the top-flight pitchers that fans would like to see the Orioles acquire, they are the shrewd, low-risk, high reward moves that Dan Duquette is known to make.

Sep 3, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Mat Latos (55) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Latos had a very off season in 2015, with a 4.95 ERA. Latos’ career ERA is 3.51 and looks to bounce back next season. As for Johnson, he hasn’t pitched in two years and has had three Tommy John surgeries. He could be a minor league addition for the Orioles, who could eventually be called up later on in 2016. When he is healthy, he boasts a 3.40 career ERA.

Duquette also mentioned in-house candidates for the Orioles starting pitching staff. He mentioned the likes of Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright and even Zach Britton. Another name that has been discussed is Dylan Bundy, but his health is no guarantee and he must be on the 40-man roster next year, as he is all out of options. Whether the Orioles give the former top-100 prospect a chance to start is left to be seen in Spring Training.

The Orioles will have their work cut out for them this offseason for starting pitching. Only time will tell what moves they make this winter.

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