Pitching market may force Orioles to act faster

Club confident in ability to move pieces for rotation help as Meetings reveal competitive offseason

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the American League East-rival New York Yankees officially unveiled slugger Giancarlo Stanton at the Winter Meetings on Monday afternoon, the Orioles remain focused on their own wish list -- one that includes, most importantly, a pair of starting pitchers who could prompt them to act quickly in a competitive market.

"The rich got richer, right?" executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said, likening the Yankees' move to the Red Sox acquiring Chris Sale at last year's Winter Meetings.

"But we have our own challenges that we have to [meet to] staff our team. We try to be as competitive as we can be all the time. Fortunately we have been able to compete with the Yankees, we've been able to compete with the Red Sox."

To have any chance at competing in 2018, the O's have to improve on one of the worst starting rotations in baseball. For now, they have and penciled in, with the hope that they are able to find two starters this winter and have one guy come forward from within the organization.

Regardless, it doesn't appear the Orioles would be interested in a long-term free-agent signing.

"Those [longer free-agent pitching deals] haven't worked out that well for the club, so I'm not sure I would recommend that," Duquette said. "I don't think you have to say you have to go four or five years in that market to be competitive."

The team would prefer to get one lefty starter, if possible, and Duquette acknowledged that the O's -- who typically like to make moves later in the winter -- will probably have to work quicker in such a dynamic starting pitching market.

"How many teams do you think are looking for pitching? Twenty-eight? I don't know," Duquette said. "We have to make a good deal."

Should the O's pursue the trade avenue, they feel good about their ability to move pieces in their bullpen as well as the improved depth in their Minor League system. Zach Britton, and continue to draw interest, with Duquette adding that opposing clubs have inquired about pitching prospects Keegan Akin (ranked No. 8 in the O's organization by MLBPipeline.com) and Alex Wells (No. 16).

The Orioles were linked to Mets starter Matt Harvey on Monday night, with New York reportedly interested in a reliever in return. Chris Tillman, who is a free agent, is another name that Duquette said "seems to come up all the time" in the O's market.

"He was a good pitcher for us for a long time that certainly could be considered, among others," he said.

The rest of the Orioles' shopping list includes a power left-handed reliever, a left-handed hitter -- that Duquette reiterated he believes will come via trade -- and a veteran catcher to add depth. The Orioles wanted to retain catcher , but he is planning to sign elsewhere.