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Wednesday Bird Droppings: The pitching market narrows further

Hill and Eovaldi sign elsewhere, replacing the double-play duo, and a top catcher gets extended.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Any remaining hopes you might have had about the Orioles fortifying their pitching staff via free agency evaporated on Tuesday as two of the team’s reported targets signed elsewhere.

Soft-tossing lefty Rich Hill agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates to pitch in his 19 MLB season. Later, flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi signed a two-year pact with the Texas Rangers that could reach a third year and a maximum value of $63 million depending on performance incentives.

Neither player would have truly elevated the Orioles rotation, although Eovaldi does have an alluring skillset with some upside. But at the very least they would have provided additional depth that could prove useful for a unit that, as it exists, will be overly reliant on young and/or untested arms.

And so, we turn back toward the trade market. There hasn’t been much action there, at least not it terms of starting pitchers. The names that are supposedly available remain unchanged. It seems the Marlins are open to moving Pablo López. Perhaps the Guardians would part with ace Shane Bieber. And it sounds like Corbin Burnes could be gotten from the Brewers.

But the cost of any of those moves is tough to nail down. López is likely the most affordable while Burnes could be rather pricey and Bieber sits somewhere in-between. The Orioles will need to take into account both the prospect package and any sort of contract extension they could possibly swing.

Unless the asking price is absolutely absurd, it’s tough to see it not being worth it for the Orioles. Their minor league system has produced interesting depth pitchers recently, but few with the chops to sit atop a rotation. Grayson Rodriguez needs a partner to form a 1-2 punch.

No team wants to be on the wrong side of a prospects-for-big-leaguer trade. And prospects can be fun and projectable. But they are often more valuable to the major league squad as trade chips. Hopefully Mike Elias and his front office agree.


Needing more answers about the Orioles | Roch Kubatko
Roch notes that Gunnar Henderson is expected to the be Orioles third baseman most days in 2023. That’s interesting to me. As the roster exists, that seems right. Of course, a trade of Jorge Mateo also seems entirely possible between now and late March, so who knows.

Newly acquired Murphy lands 6-year extension from Braves |
This isn’t Orioles-specific, but it seems relevant that one of the game’s better catchers got an extension. At 28 years old and 3+ years of big league experience Sean Murphy is not a perfect comparison for the O’s Adley Rutschman, but his six-year, $73 million deal (which buys out three arbitration years) seems relevant. If the Orioles were to give Rutschman an extension in the near future, it would need to be bigger. But keep in mind they would be buying out pre-arb seasons right now, which would bring down the AAV quite a bit should such a scenario arise.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday! In addition to my lovely wife, you will be celebrating with these former Orioles:

  • Bill Hall turns 43. He wrapped up his 11-season MLB career with a seven-game stay on the 2012 Orioles.
  • B.J. Ryan is 47 today. The left-handed pitcher established himself as one of the better relievers in baseball as a member of the Orioles bullpen from 1999 through 2005. He parlayed that success into a five-year, $47 million deal with the Blue Jays, which was the most money ever given to a reliever at that point.
  • Ray Knight is 70 years old. The infielder spent the 1987 season in Baltimore, where he had an 83 OPS+ and 0.5 bWAR in that time.
  • The late Aurelio Rodríguez (d. 2000) was born on this day in 1947. He made his way into 45 games with the 1983 Orioles, although he was released in August prior to the World Series run.

This day in history

2005 - Free agent outfielder Jeromy Burnitz agrees to a two-year deal with the Orioles, but it is never finalized following a dispute over the contract language regarding the player physical.