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Rotation holds key to O's Trade Deadline plans

March 27, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have enjoyed a nice stretch of still being in the postseason picture at the non-waiver Trade Deadline over the past five seasons, a club actively trying to add talent after years of fielding calls from clubs hoping to poach some of their better performers. They're

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have enjoyed a nice stretch of still being in the postseason picture at the non-waiver Trade Deadline over the past five seasons, a club actively trying to add talent after years of fielding calls from clubs hoping to poach some of their better performers. They're once again hoping to be part of the rush of postseason-hungry buyers in late July, and not left behind during the 2017 campaign's final months.
But to give O's executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette an opportunity to work the phone lines in July in search of a boost, a few key things have to happen.
First and foremost, the rotation needs to pitch well. The injury to Chris Tillman this spring demonstrates again how thin Baltimore's pitching depth is and how important each piece truly is.
Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are two big parts of the equation and will be relied upon heavily this season, along with Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez. If the Orioles are going to be competitive again, the rotation will need to step up and try to limit overtaxing the bullpen early.

Relief pitching largely carried the O's in 2016, and it's not unreasonable to think that Baltimore can once again have a very good bullpen -- particularly given Darren O'Day's healthy return this spring.
Pitching could be something Duquette targets to put his club over the top, either to boost the rotation or to give them another bullpen weapon (think Andrew Miller from a few years back). It's important to note that the O's have also been incredibly active in August for waiver deals -- and there's no reason to think if they've got a chance for the playoffs that they won't be again.
The real sticking point when it gets to the Trade Deadline is this: What will the O's give up?
Their Minor League system hasn't had enough to make any high-profile swaps, and there isn't a whole lot that has changed over the past year. Perhaps they'll have some prospects emerge, or decide to go for it with a limited window and part with a recent Draft pick.
It's a problem the Orioles will gladly sign up for in late March, wondering who they would trade should they still be in the hunt. It's a long season -- and much can happen over the course of months, weeks or even a single game. Baltimore can only hope it will be fortunate enough to be in a position to be buyers.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.