The Baltimore Orioles had their sights set on a pitcher whom they believed would help upgrade their starting rotation for the 2014 season.
They now have to start from scratch in their search.
On Friday, the Arizona Diamondbacks came to agreement on terms of a two-year deal with free-agent starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo had been targeted by the Orioles as a priority for the past several weeks.
Considering the issues faced by the Orioles’ rotation in 2013—they finished 12th in the American League with a 4.57 ERA—it made sense that Arroyo was viewed as an upgrade.
Now, with less than 10 days before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the Orioles have made no major transactions in their pursuit to field a competitive roster for the 2014 season.
Unless of course you consider the signing of Alfredo Aceves or Delmon Young to be major transactions.
The Orioles are now left with few options in an attempt to upgrade a roster that finished a disappointing 85-77 and in fourth place in the AL East in 2013. Pitching was seen as a priority, and at this point there are more questions than answers.
The ace of the staff would appear to be Chris Tillman, who enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013. He finished with a 16-7 record and 3.71 ERA with 206 strikeouts, and is on track to be their Opening Day starter.
However, beyond Tillman is when the questions begin. Wei-Yin Chen struggled through an oblique injury last year and made just 23 starts, posting a 7-7 record and 4.07 ERA. Miguel Gonzalez appears to have the No. 3 spot firmly in his grasp, posting an 11-8 record with a 3.78 ERA. Bud Norris will be starting his first full season in Baltimore following his midseason trade last year from the Houston Astros. Norris was 10-12 overall with a 4.18 ERA.
With the exception of Tillman, none of the above starters do anything to give fans hope for optimism. And they’re no doubt getting restless after the Orioles’ failure to make any changes to date.
At this point, the Orioles’ best options for improvement come in the form of Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom would cost the Orioles a first-round draft pick this year. In addition, both Santana and Jimenez are looking at commitments beyond three years, something the Orioles are loathe to accommodate.
According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette promised last month that the club would spend to make upgrades and expected the team’s payroll to rise above the $100 million mark.
Encina mentioned lower-tier pitching options like Chris Capuano, Paul Maholm, Aaron Harang or Joe Saunders who could help give depth to the rotation. Saunders was successful for a short time in Baltimore, posting a 3.63 ERA in seven starts in 2012 and winning the team’s first playoff game in 17 seasons.
A.J. Burnett is still available as well and could be had for a one-year deal. Burnett recently announced he would be willing to pitch at least one more season after hinting at retiremement.
Still, with the exception of Burnett, none of the above names are likely to generate much buzz among an Orioles fanbase that wants action. It’s possible that the Baltimore front office will have to look at changing their mindset and going after either Santana or Jimenez to really affect change at this point.
Standing pat is not what Orioles fans expected, and failing to sign Arroyo was just another disappointment in what has been a frustrating offseason thus far.