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Can the Orioles afford to trade pitching?

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Can the Orioles afford to trade pitching?

If the Orioles make a trade to acquire a bat, they'll need to sacrifice some of the team's pitching depth.

A year ago, it looked dubious that the Orioles had enough pitching to field five credible starters and staff a bullpen. Even if they don't re-sign Joe Saunders, they may feel quite differently today.

Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman are the top four starters, and even if Saunders isn't back, there are several candidates to choose from for the fifth starter. Jake Arrieta, who was 2012's Opening Day starter, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter or Steve Johnson could be the fifth.

Tsuyoshi Wada could be back from Tommy John surgery by May, and not long after that, Dylan Bundy could be ready for the rotation with Kevin Gausman not far behind.

Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton were all effective in the bullpen, though it's possible
Matusz could get a shot at starting again.

Perhaps Arrieta, Britton, Hunter or Johnson could be part of a deal for a hitter.

Last season, the staff was remarkably free of shoulder, elbow or arm issues with the exception of Wada and Britton's shoulder issues.

The Orioles can’t be certain that will happen again, but they may feel they have enough pitching depth to move one or two for a bat.

NOTES:

-The Orioles did not win any Silver Slugger Awards on Thursday night. They haven't won one since Aubrey Huff in 2008.

-There's only one manager's job open, according to reports, the Toronto Blue Jays are not close to choosing one. They're apparently concentrating on those with previous major league managerial experience, which would work against Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale. Hale had been mentioned as a contender in Toronto.

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.