4 Starters the Baltimore Orioles Should Target to Fix the Rotation
It still feels like the MLB season has just started, but in truth we're coming to the point at which trade rumors begin flying over the web as players fly to new cities to call "home."
The Baltimore Orioles have been hovering just above .500 for the last few weeks, and the team can't seem to string together a good winning stretch.
When teams struggle to put winning streaks together, the problem is usually the pitching rotation, and the Orioles are no exception to that rule.
If the O's want to compete this season, they may need to acquire a starting pitcher (or two) from outside the organization with the hope that said pitcher(s) can provide the stability the team so desperately needs.
It's a bit too early for rumors to mean much, but it's always fun to take a look at them anyway while trying to piece together ones that make sense for the teams involved.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
A pipe dream, right?
The Tampa Bay Rays are currently 13.5 games out of first place in the AL East. They've had injury troubles galore. They've had players not perform up to expectations. A total and complete fire sale could be on the horizon for the franchise that hasn't had a losing season since 2007.
David Price started a bit slow this season but currently owns a 3.97 ERA in a league-leading 99.2 innings. Price would solve a lot of things for the O's. He'd give the club innings (which helps the bullpen) while also being a true ace.
It would be crazy to think that the Rays would trade Price to a division rival, or that the O's could afford to offer the prospects to entice the Rays to even consider such a scenario. However, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. If the Rays are looking to deal Price this summer, the O's should certainly keep tabs on the situation.
Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians have been fighting to stay at .500 this season. If they start to fall this summer, right-hander Justin Masterson could very well be on the move.
A free agent at the end of the season, the club couldn't secure an extension with Masterson during the offseason. The Indians could get a better return for the pitcher should they trade him this summer as opposed to letting him walk this winter.
Masterson has struggled this season, putting up an ERA of 4.61 in 80 innings, but his career number is a solid 4.08 and he's a reliable innings eater. He put up an ERA of 3.45 in 193 innings in 2013, and a 3.21 ERA in 216 innings in 2011.
While the O's need an ace, some consistency would also be a big boost for their rotation. Masterson could provide that consistency.
A.J. Burnett, Philadelphia Phillies
The O's tried to get veteran A.J. Burnett during the offseason, but he preferred to pitch in the NL.
He's now pitching for the worst team in the NL, though, and the Philadelphia Phillies could be looking to move some unnecessary pieces in order to build for the future.
Burnett is obviously one of those pieces, as he inked a one-year, $16 million deal last offseason.
He presents an interesting option. The O's could potentially work out a deal in which the Phillies receive a prospect or two and eat Burnett's contract. Conversely, the O's could take Burnett on for next to nothing, while agreeing to pay the remainder of his deal—freeing the Phillies of a contract they don't need on their books.
Burnett hasn't been terribly fantastic this season, going 3-5 with a 4.41 ERA in 79.2 innings. However, he leads the league in walks with 41 free passes.
The O's would likely be better off avoiding Burnett, but he's another option to keep an eye on.
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
I know, I just posted a piece last week summing up why the O's need to stay away from Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
Now I'll sum up why the O's should at least consider acquiring the pitcher.
The Cubs are rumored to want a boatload of talent for their staff leader, and for good reason. They're in prime bargaining position. Samardzija won't become a free agent until the end of the 2015 season, and the team can wait until this offseason to deal him if no team offers them the kind of deal they're looking for.
If the demands of the Cubs come down, then it becomes a much more realistic scenario for the Birds. The team can probably afford to part with one top pitching prospect in the right deal, but certainly not two.
Samardzija isn't a true ace, but he'd likely be the best pitcher in the O's rotation, providing a huge boost for the club and making the race for the AL East crown that much more interesting.
It all depends on what the cost is.