While the Orioles appear ready to finally move on from Chris Davis and onto Yoenis Cespedes, there’s another area that needs to be addressed in the five weeks before spring training begins.
Yes, it’s starting pitching.
Two of the Orioles incumbent starters, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman were at the minicamp, though they didn’t throw. Kevin Gausman, who was present last year and Ubaldo Jimenez weren’t.
They still need a fifth starter.
One of the candidates, Vance Worley, was invited, but he declined.
Unless Worley had some pressing personal business, he missed an opportunity to get some valuable time with pitching coach Dave Wallace.
If Worley can recapture what he had with Philadelphia in 2011 when he won 11 games as a fifth starter in a terrific rotation, he could be a great help.
Tyler Wilson will be given a chance at the job, but he made need more seasoning, and the Orioles bullpen may not have many openings—maybe as few as one if Dylan Bundy is healthy and Brian Matusz isn’t traded.
The Orioles have pursued other starters and continue to be interested in Yovani Gallardo, who is probably the best of the available bunch.
They don’t seem terribly eager to give up their first round draft pick for Gallardo and haven’t shown any interest in Ian Kennedy, who the Royals are talking with. Gallardo’s other suitors appear to be Houston, Kansas City and now Toronto, but if the Royals sign Kennedy, they’re probably done for this cycle.
There are still a number of starting pitchers available, but most of them are older and have injury issues. Two that the Orioles have had interest in are Doug Fister and Mat Latos.
Fister will be 32 next month, and struggled to a 5-7 record with the Nationals, but in 2014, he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA.
Latos had an awful 2015, with a 4-10 record with a 4.95 ERA for three teams. He was 28-11 for Cincinnati in 2012-13 and at 28, is one of the younger pitchers on the market.
There are some other interesting names on the available starting pitcher list. Three are former Orioles: Jeremy Guthrie, Alfredo Simon and Randy Wolf.
Guthrie started Buck Showalter’s first game as Orioles manager, and it’s a pretty safe bet he’s not on the Orioles wish list now.
Simon was mostly a reliever in his time with the Orioles, and was waived in the spring of 2012. He’s won 28 games as a starter for the Reds and Tigers the last two years, and suddenly, he’s 34.
Wolf pitched briefly for the Orioles in 2012, and after Tommy John surgery, returned to the organization for a time in 2014. He’s a left-hander, but he’s now 39.
Other names of note still available are Bronson Arroyo, who the Orioles showed interest in a few years back, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Kyle Lohse and Justin Masterson.
Trivia buffs will remember that Lincecum won three World Series and two Cy Youngs after being selected with the 10th pick of the 2006 draft. He was taken immediately after the Orioles selected Billy Rowell and one pick before Arizona took Max Scherzer.
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