Here's how Orioles could upgrade rotation

December 5th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The 2022 Winter Meetings are set to begin Sunday, and general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde will be among the Orioles staff members in San Diego through Wednesday. It will be an opportune time for Baltimore to make progress on its offseason to-do list.

Among the O’s top priorities is adding at least one starting pitcher -- preferably somebody who can slot into one of the top three spots in their rotation in 2023. Don’t expect Baltimore to enter a bidding war for Carlos Rodón or Kodai Senga, but it could sign another notable free-agent starter. The Orioles may also consider trading for a quality arm. Or they could even do both.

Here are three potential ways the O’s could upgrade their rotation:

A marquee free agent:

deGrom, Verlander and Rodón comprise the top tier of free-agent starting pitchers, but Bassitt is only a notch below that trio. The right-hander was effective for much of his time with the A’s, posting a 3.23 ERA in 77 games (70 starts) from 2018-21. He was then a workhorse for the Mets in ‘22, recording a 3.42 ERA and setting career highs in wins (15), starts (30), innings (181 2/3) and strikeouts (167).

Bassitt turns 34 in February, but he’s shown no signs of regression, as both his sinker and four-seam fastball velocities have held steady in recent years. It wouldn’t be surprising if he continues to be a solid starter for at least several more seasons.’s Jon Paul Morosi believes the Orioles are “a really interesting team to follow” in the market for Bassitt, who declined a qualifying offer from the Mets earlier this offseason.

A lefty option:

Baltimore’s rotation candidates for next year are primarily right-handed, especially with southpaw John Means still recovering from Tommy John surgery and unlikely to return until midseason. So the O’s might want to add another lefty to the mix.

Heaney should sign for a lower price than some of the higher-profile free-agent starters, but he still has plenty of upside. The 31-year-old dealt with numerous injuries in 2022, though he fared well when healthy, posting a 3.10 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) for the Dodgers.

A trade target:

The Marlins have a good bit of pitching depth, which is why López has been featured in rumors and buzz going back to the Trade Deadline in August. The right-hander will be 27 at the start of the 2023 season and is under team control through the end of ‘24.

López has a 3.94 ERA in 94 starts for Miami, 32 of which came in 2022, when he threw a career-high 180 innings. He also recorded a 3.75 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 174 strikeouts.

In order to land López, the O’s may have to deal a big league-caliber outfielder and/or some of their infield-prospect depth. They would have to determine how much they’re willing to part with if they try to negotiate a trade with the Marlins.