According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal the Baltimore Orioles are finally giving in to the fact that in order for them to round out their rotation they are going to have to give up their first round, 17th overall, draft pick.
The Orioles haven’t had the greatest off season. They traded away their closer, Jim Johnson, for a mediocre second baseman, Jemile Weeks. They had pretty much done deals with both RHP Grant Balfour and OF Tyler Colvin only to have both deals fall through due to issues surrounding the player’s physicals. They were interested in closer Fernando Rodney but lost out to the Mariners. The Orioles have an even more desperate need for a fifth starter. They had would like to have signed Bronson Arroyo who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, reportedly saying that he was deterred from playing in Baltimore because of the issues they’d had with Balfour and Colvin. Baltimore was also very interested in AJ Burnett. It was widely known that Burnett wanted to pitch somewhere near his Maryland home and the Orioles were automatically seen as the front runners, only to have Burnett sign with the Phillies instead.
The Orioles did sign Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon on Wednesday to a three year, $5.75 million contract. This signing does give their rotation a definite boost, but only if Yoon performs like fellow Korean pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu has performed for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Signing a player from overseas is always a risk because there is no guarantee how they will adjust to playing Major League Baseball as opposed to baseball in their home countries.
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Still there are two free agent, proven starting pitchers out there for the taking but they each have a downfall. Both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez have a draft pick attached to them. Meaning that if signed by Baltimore, the Orioles will have to give up their highest draft pick to either Santana’s former team, the Kansas City Royals or to Jimenez’s former team, the Cleveland Indians. Both pitchers’ former teams offered one year deals worth $14.1 million and both deals were rejected by the players, thus the Indians and Royals receive a draft pick to compensate for their loss.
The Orioles (and most other teams) have been shying away from Jimenez and Santana for this reason. It is very likely the reason these two are still on the market with pitchers and catchers having already reported to training camp. Baltimore’s only other option is to stay in-house and promote their 2012 first round draft pick, Kevin Gausman, to the starting rotation. Promoting Gausman is, like signing Yoon, a gamble because he is young and inexperienced.
As was reported by Ken Rosenthal the Orioles have a small window if they want to win (2014-2015) so the best bet for the team is to suck it up and give up a draft pick in order to get a proven starter. We will probably know within a matter of days if that starter is Jimenez or Santana.
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