The Orioles are still be looking to add a starting pitcher even after signing Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. By now, we all know the names who are left on the market: Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, both of whom would cost the Orioles the #17 selection in this year's draft if they were to sign.
Given the many statements that Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette has made about still wanting to add a veteran starter before the season gets underway, it's almost like Heyman is trying to encourage Duquette to sign Jimenez by labeling him a "veteran righthander" with the very first words of his article. Here's a veteran, go ahead and sign him!
It's not clear whether there is even any renewed interest from the Orioles in Jimenez or whether Heyman is just re-stating what was believed to be the case a couple of weeks ago.
Heyman isn't the only reporter who has practically been begging for the Orioles to give up their pick. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote on Saturday that the Orioles were "willing" to give up their pick, though the actual quote from Duquette seems less committed to the idea. Rosenthal reported Duquette as saying, "I've said all along that we would take a look at it." It's very easy to take a look and say no thanks, as Duquette has done with basically every other free agent to begin with.
With an offseason full of stories about the Orioles and their supposed interest in free agents, it's nearly mandatory to take it all with a grain of salt at this point. Once, they were said to be "all in" on new Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett, who was asked on Sunday about whether he had much interest in him from the Orioles. "Not that much," he said, so it's almost like the Orioles weren't really all in on him and someone leaked something to serve their own agenda, whatever that might have been.
At some point or another, the O's have been linked to all of the draft pick-connected free agents remaining except for Stephen Drew, though it's been a while since they were rumored to have something going on with Nelson Cruz as well.
According to Heyman, the contracts for Jimenez and Santana are expected to come in somewhere between the three-year, $33 million deal given to Kyle Lohse (also a draft pick-tied free agent) during last spring training, and the four-year, $50 million deal given to Matt Garza this offseason. Do you want either Jimenez or Santana for $12-13 million a year?
It's not an exorbitant price, but it's enough to give you pause; neither one has a perfect track record. Each pitcher had an ERA above 5 in the 2012 season. That's not so far away to feel good about a significant contract expenditure, though both have shown they can be much better than that too. Jimenez rebounded in 2013 by increasing his strikeout rate and ground ball rate, but he still walks people like it's going out of style.
Santana lowered a disastrous home run rate from 2012 to his typical career levels and cut his walk rate to a career low, but it's fair to wonder how the home run rate would be affected by switching to having Camden Yards as his home stadium.
The general rule of the baseball rumor mill is that nothing is actually going to happen, which is all the more true where the Orioles are involved. It only takes them deciding to dive in to a diminished market and make a splash to surprise us all.