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Saturday Bird Droppings: Defining the pitching market

The trade market is increasingly looking like the only option for the Orioles to upgrade their rotation.

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Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Good Morning, Birdland!

While our Orioles have remained quiet since signing Craig Kimbrel, some moves have happened around them in recent weeks that should inform what the rest of their offseason could look like, specifically on the pitching side of things.

A bunch of mid-tier starters signed this week: Michael Wacha (two years, $32 million with Royals), Jack Flaherty (one year, $14 million with Tigers), Tyler Mahle (two years, $22 million), and Seth Lugo (three years, $45 million with Royals). None of those options are the “front half” starter that Mike Elias claims to be chasing this winter. However, it does inform where the floor exists for a pitcher with any sort of ability. You want major league quality innings on the free agent market? It’s gonna cost you at least $11 million-16 million AAV.

Then there’s the Tyler Glasnow trade. As part of the deal that is sending him from the Rays to the Dodgers, Glasnow will be getting a big, beefy extension. The latest reports indicate that it will be a four-year, $110 million contract that kicks in after he earns $25 million in 2023. All in, that’s an AAV of $27 million for an oft-injured 30-year-old that, as clearly talented as he is, has never thrown more than 120 innings in a season.

Where does that leave the Orioles? Well, if the goal is the find someone that can lead the rotation in 2023, free agency is probably out of the question. But we already knew that when Eduardo Rodriguez signed with the Diamondbacks for what seemed reasonable enough at four years, $80 million. Dedicating that much money to a pitcher that is beyond his peak just does not seem to fit Mike Elias’ idea of team building.

So the trade market it is. But if Elias doesn’t want to spend what it takes to add a free agent arm you can imagine that the only players he’s interested in adding to this Orioles team will be as far away from the open market as possible. Could the O’s do a trade-and-extend deal à la Glasnow-to-the-Dodgers or everyone-to-the-Braves? Sure. But giving anyone $25+ million per year seems unlikely right now.

That would make the likes of Shane Bieber or Corbin Burnes appear off limits as well. They both hit free agency in a year. Dylan Cease would still make some sense as he’s got two years of team control, but the ideal target could one of the young arms with the Mariners or Marlins who are eons (in baseball terms, anyway) away from free agency. That would cost a boatload in prospects, though. It feels like the time has come for the Orioles to part with some of their youngsters, but until we see Elias do so we won’t know if he’s got the stomach for it.


Orioles and Nationals confirm MASN rights fees from 2017 to 2021 without protracted litigation | The Baltimore Sun
It is interesting that as soon as rumors circulate about the Orioles potentially being for sale, the team suddenly gets a little less feisty legally. To be clear, the time period in question here is different from the one that has been disputed for years on end, but it is still notable to see the Orioles ease off the Nationals on anything.

Elias: “In terms of intangibles, I think we have a lot going for us” | Roch Kubatko
If you want a throwback, look at some of the names Roch tosses around in the second half of this blog. It’s a bunch of players that rejected the Orioles in the early 2000s. The highest quality of “remembering some guys.”

Rosenthal: What I’m hearing about Dylan Cease and the starting pitcher market | The Athletic
Rosenthal says that the O’s ain’t in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, or Jordan Montgomery. I am shocked. Shocked, I say! But they are keeping tabs on the trade market, particularly Dylan Cease. And it sounds like teams (both those trading for and trading away talent) are waiting for the big free agent deals to wrap up before moving their big chips. The O’s may yet get their big arm, but it probably isn’t happening before Christmas at this rate.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Mickey Jannis turns 36. The knuckleballer pitched in one game for the 2021 Orioles.
  • Chris Britton is 41 today. Not related to Zack, this pitcher did spend the 2006 season in the O’s bullpen.
  • Billy Ripken celebrates his 59th birthday. He had two stints with the Orioles, first from 1987 through ‘92 and then again in ‘96.
  • the late Mike Flanagan (b. 1951, d. 2011) was born on this day. One of the most productive pitchers in club history, the southpaw spent 15 total seasons in Baltimore as a player, spanning from 1975 through ‘87 and then again from ‘91-’92. The highlight of his career came in 1979 when he was named AL Cy Young. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

This day in O’s history

2002 - The O’s sign free agent shortstop Deivi Cruz.

2003 - Miguel Tejada joins the Orioles, signing a six-year, $72-million contract, the largest in team history.

2008 - Shortstop César Izturis signs on as a stopgap solution for the Orioles.

2009 - A banner day for the Orioles as they sign two free agents: reliever Mike Gonzalez and third baseman Garrett Atkins.