The one thing the Orioles need to do this offseason is fix their starting rotation. This was true last offseason as well and they got worse, but this offseason, change is almost inevitable because of all the free agents. The O's can get some new free agents who are hopefully better. The only question is which ones.
One on the Orioles radar, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, is recent Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood. Morosi reported on Wednesday afternoon that the team has "shown interest" in Chatwood, a soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander who is coming off a season where he posted a 4.69 ERA for Colorado in 33 games.
As ever with baseball rumors, reading into the specific language to figure out what it means or doesn't mean is important. An awkward middle school kid might "show interest" in a classmate by passing a note in class that says, "I like you. Do you like me? Check one."
Funny as it is to imagine Dan Duquette doing this, in reality he probably just called, texted, or even met in person with Chatwood's agent to get an idea of what kind of contract Chatwood is seeking and whether the O's are going to be able to be players for him.
The 4.69 ERA from Chatwood makes it easy to think that he wouldn't help the rotation very much at all, but it's worth remembering that Coors Field is still Coors Field, no matter what is done with humidors and the like.
Chatwood had a 6.01 home ERA but just a 3.49 ERA on the road in 2017. That's a lot more interesting. Batters had an .884 OPS against Chatwood in Colorado and just a .695 OPS against him outside of Colorado. That's interesting too, although the walks, 77 in 147.2 innings, were a problem both at home and on the road. We just looked at Wade Miley, thanks.
Also in the plus column for Chatwood is that he ran a groundball rate of 58.1% in the 2017 season. While ground ball pitchers have suffered from the juiced ball (or whatever) and changes in hitters swing patterns, that's still a substantial percentage of balls put on the ground. Batters may be hitting non-grounders for home runs more off of these types of pitchers, but a ground ball is still a ground ball.
The folks at MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Chatwood would receive a three year, $20 million contract this offseason. Along with questions about his recent performance, there's also health. He had a calf strain in July, and more significantly, missed the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Even if Chatwood gets a little more than that - Fangraphs' Dave Cameron predicted three years, $30 million - that's not "scares Peter Angelos" money, though there is always the dreaded Orioles physical to deal with.
If the best pitcher the Orioles sign this offseason ends up being Tyler Chatwood, that's something that would probably end up being bad news. If he's one of two or three guys and there's someone else better than him, there's nothing to get upset about there.
Chatwood is exactly who the Orioles should be interested in. They are interested early on. Maybe eventually they will sign him.