Du­quette needs to look out­side or­ga­ni­za­tion for ro­ta­tion help

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS -

though he has never started a game at the ma­jor league level. Left-han­der Richard Bleier’s name might even en­ter the con­ver­sa­tion, though he is valu­able where he is in the mid­dle of a strong bullpen.

What you’ll also hear is a lot of talk about the young arms that are show­ing prom­ise and “might” show up in the ma­jors late in the sea­son or in 2019, but top Dou­ble-A prospect Tan­ner Scott was lim­ited to just 69 in­nings over 24 starts this year and top or­ga­ni­za­tional pitch­ing prospect Hunter Har­vey is prob­a­bly go­ing to start next sea­son at Class-A Fred­er­ick.

So, the Ori­oles need to bring in some­body who isn’t just an af­ter­thought in an­other or­ga­ni­za­tion. They have two solid young starters to build around and they’ll need a vet­eran pres­ence in the ro­ta­tion that isn’t a se­ri­ous threat to give up six runs in the first cou­ple in­nings ev­ery time he takes the mound.

Trou­ble is, the mar­ket con­di­tions that have pre­vented the Ori­oles from sign­ing a cor­ner­stone start­ing pitcher the past few years re­main in place. The sup­ply/de­mand curve re­mains heav­ily tilted to­ward de­mand and strong or­ga­ni­za­tions don’t let good pitch­ers get away, so the free-agent mar­ket isn’t ex­actly burst­ing with top-tier pitch­ing tal­ent.

That will be one of the ex­cuses if the Ori­oles come back next spring with the same old song and dance in Fe­bru­ary, but there are a few pitch­ers pro­jected to be free agents who could help sta­bi­lize the ro­ta­tion and take some pres­sure off Dy­lan Bundy and Kevin Gaus­man.

The O’s could make a run at pend­ing free agent right-han­der Lance Lynn, who re­cently ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with the St. Louis Car­di­nals front of­fice for slow­play­ing his con­tract sit­u­a­tion. He’s one of the best starters in a thin mar­ket and there has been spec­u­la­tion that he’ll com­mand a huge deal, but the Ori­oles should make a run at him — at least un­til the price goes be­yond five years and $80 mil­lion.

Right-han­der Alex Cobb also fig­ures to be pop­u­lar and, like Lynn, he has de­liv­ered a solid come­back year af­ter re­cov­er­ing from Tommy John surgery. That might be prob­lem­atic for the Ori­oles for two rea­sons, since they are stick­lers for clean phys­i­cals and agents should be un­der­stand­ably wary of ex­pos­ing their clients to a sit­u­a­tion where a re­jected con­tract could lessen their value else­where.

Right-han­der An­drew Cash­ner is an in­ter­est­ing pos­si­bil­ity. His 40-63 ca­reer record and 3.81 ERA would be a head­scratcher if not for the fact that he has never played on a win­ning team in his eight-year ma­jor league ca­reer. He signed a one-year deal with the Rangers last Novem­ber and fig­ures to get a multi-year deal this time around, but prob­a­bly won’t break any­body’s bank.

The Ori­oles are more likely to fo­cus on a pitcher such as 35-year-old left-han­der Ja­son Var­gas, who is one of the win­ningest pitch­ers in the Amer­i­can League and would likely not re­quire more than a twoor three-year com­mit­ment. They might also con­sider right-han­der Jhoulys Chacín, who is hav­ing a solid sea­son in San Diego and has a sub-4.00 ca­reer ERA, though he has av­er­aged more than 3.5 walks per nine in­nings over his ca­reer.

Who­ever Du­quette de­cides to pur­sue — and that was just a sam­pling of the bet­ter pitch­ers avail­able — he can­not af­ford to fool him­self into imag­in­ing that the Ori­oles can fill out the ro­ta­tion from within the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

If all goes well, that might be pos­si­ble in 2019 or 2020, but if next Septem­ber looks any­thing like this one, he might not be around to find out.

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