Orioles Rumors: O's targeting veteran free agent starters

Elsa

The Orioles will limit their search for starting pitching to low-cost veterans and the trade market.

The Orioles are turning their attention away from the bullpen and targeting free agent starters they can land with a short-term deal like Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Batlimore Sun.

Baltimore has spent the last few weeks concentrating their efforts on replacing closer Jim Johnson, who was dealt to the Athletics for second baseman Jemile Weeks. They came close to a deal with former Athletics closer Grant Balfour, but were scared off by issues with his repaired right shoulder. At this point, Tommy Hunter appears to be in line for saves for Baltimore next season, according to Encina.

The Orioles need to add starting pitching this winter thanks to the loss of Scott Feldman to the Astros via free agency and a starting rotation that finished with the fourth highest ERA in the game in 2013. Injuries and inconsistency were major issues for the 2013 staff; just one pitcher, Chris Tillman, managed more than 30 starts for the Orioles last year and only two others made more than 20. While Burnett and Arroyo are not the top names on the free agent pitching market, they have both been extremely durable over the last five years. Burnett has made 30 or more starts every year since 2007 and Arroyo has topped 30 starts every season since 2004.

Both players also excelled in 2013. Burnett posted a 3.30 ERA with even better FIP and xFIP numbers over 191 innings for the Pirates. Arroyo didn't fair as well in fielding-independent numbers but he still managed a 3.79 ERA over 202 innings for the Reds.

Baltimore could also turn to the trade market, where they have been targeting Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs for some time, writes Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. The Orioles are not interested in newly-posted Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Kubatko reports, but they could look to benefit from his posting by swinging a trade with one of the bidders. Along Chicago and Samardzija, the Orioles could also look towards the Rangers and target Derek Holland if Texas makes a play for Tanaka, Rubatko muses.

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