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Looking at the Orioles' needs halfway through the offseason

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Looking at the Orioles' needs halfway through the offseason

As we head into the throes of holiday season, baseball’s hot stove period is nearing its midway point. And while the Orioles have made a few moves by trading for first baseman Mark Trumbo and re-signing Darren O'Day, there is still heavy lifting to be done before the team heads to Sarasota for spring training in February. 

Here are the three areas the Orioles still need to address now that we're halfway through the offseason:

 

1. The Chris Davis saga. It seems the Orioles' negotiations to re-sign free agent slugger Davis continue to drag on at a snail's pace. If their reported offer of seven years, $150 million is still on the table, Dan Duquette and company have to find a way to get a decision out of the 29-year-old first baseman and agent Scott Boras soon. If he signs, then Baltimore will have kept its biggest and best power bat. If he doesn't, then the O's are free to use that money to fill other holes. Whatever the outcome, they'll be better off once this standstill is over.  

2. Finding an everyday corner outfielder. One of the biggest disappointments for the Orioles in 2015 was that they couldn't adequately replace Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz once they left for free agency last winter. Other than stalwart centerfielder Adam Jones, Baltimore's outfield was seemingly reshuffling the deck every few weeks. Whether it was Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Travis Snider, David Lough or Delmon Young, the Birds simply couldn't find players to lock down either of the corner outfield spots. 

That has to change this offseason. So far, the O's are said to have been interested in some of the big names out there such as Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes. But is it likely that this team, which has historically shied away from handing out big free agent contracts, would be willing to spend the type of cash it would take to acquire those players? There doesn't seem to be much of a precedent for it — especially if the aforementioned Davis is re-signed. That said, the second-tier options like Denard Span and Alex Gordon could fill the void, provided that they can stay healthy.

3. Acquiring a starting pitcher (or two) to replace Wei-Yin Chen. It seems apparent that if the Orioles are to find significant help in the rotation in the next few months, Duquette will have to get resourceful. The top-end arms are either no longer available or out of the Birds’ price range, so once again the second-tier market is key. Baltimore has been reportedly linked to Scott Kazmir, Mat Latos and Yovani Gallardo during the past few weeks — each of whom would be a big help for a group that ranked 25th in the majors in starter ERA at 4.53.   

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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.