As the trade deadline approaches, all teams in the MLB are preparing their to-do lists. Some will be sellers, some will be buyers, and others will sit and watch.
Despite the struggles of the Baltimore Orioles, who recently endured a four-game losing streak, as well as losing five out of their last six, they continue to be right in the hunt for the AL East crown and are expected to be buyers at the deadline, if anything.
However, the only thing the Orioles are vehemently looking to add is a veteran starting pitcher to help bolster their rotation.
This is especially true with the news that top prospect Dylan Bundy will undergo Tommy John surgery. The 20-year-old hasn't pitched since spring training and his season ended before it ever really started.
The most common name that has been thrown around the Orioles' rumor mill, mainly due to his availability, has been Marlins righty Ricky Nolasco, whom the Marlins are aggressively trying to ship, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Marlins have been aggressively working to move Ricky Nolasco, ASAP.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 25, 2013
The 30-year-old Nolasco has been an effective starter for the Marlins since his call-up back in 2006. Besides 2007, he has recorded 10 wins in each season and currently has the most wins in Marlins history at 80. And while his strikeout numbers have declined in recent years, he also holds the record for most K's as a Marlin, with 988.
Nolasco has pitched better in 2013 than his 4-7 record may show, as his 3.68 ERA is well below his career 4.43 ERA.
The biggest issue with Nolasco will be his hefty $11.5 million contract, which, according to Olney, a number of teams are willing to pay.
The Marlins have told other teams they have clubs willing to take on all of Nolasco's salary -- prorated portion of $11.5 million salary.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 26, 2013
According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Jake Peavy, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders are other possible starters the Orioles may try to bring in. The Orioles traded for Saunders last August, and he is best remembered by Orioles fans for his winning performance in the AL Wild Card Game against the Texas Rangers.
Even though the Orioles are obviously scouring the market for pitching, manager Buck Showalter seems to be content with the current organizational depth. He recently told Roch Kubatko of MASN the following:
I'll leave that up to Dan (Duquette, Orioles general manager). From my perspective, I like what we have here and in Norfolk and in Bowie, and we're going to try to make that ... guys who can take us where we need to go. And if something else presents itself, then I'll manage that. But we've got some good people here that are pitching well and some guys who are capable of pitching better, and I want to stay focused on that.
Despite Showalter's confidence, it seems a certainty that Duquette will make a move that brings in a starting pitcher.
Besides that, there isn't anything else the Orioles have shown interest in.
Other than acquiring a starting pitcher, what should the Orioles' main target be at the trade deadline?
It's been speculated that the O's could be keen on acquiring a second baseman, but according to Ghiroli, that's far from a priority. The oft-injured Brian Roberts is slated to make his return soon, and there isn't much talent on the trade market.
Finding a designated hitter could also be a move Dan Duquette may be considering. The DH has been a glaring weakness for the O's this season, as their DHs are batting right around .200.
However, Danny Valencia has been a decent contributor against lefties, and Wilson Betemit, who notoriously hits righties better than lefties, could return by the middle of July. So, that may also be low on the priority list.
Finally, adding a reliever could always be in the cards, as teams are always looking for bullpen depth. But once again, that's not a top priority.
The Orioles have plenty of young arms and a boatload of prospects they could use as trade bait. It's likely that GM Dan Duquette will make a few acquisitions near the deadline. But other than acquiring a veteran starter, any other move will probably just be Duquette adding depth to the Orioles organization.