Orioles trade rumors: 'Aggressively pursuing' rotation upgrades, sitting on 2B

Patrick Smith

Baltimore is considering Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas, and others -- but will likely stand pat at 2nd base.

The Baltimore Orioles are 'aggressively pursuing' starters to help upgrade their rotation, according to Brit Ghiroli of MLB.com. Several starters are on their radar, including Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas, Joe Saunders, and Mike Melfrey:

The Orioles are aggressively seeking another starter to help their rotation, and you can bet Duquette will explore every possible avenue. Miami's Ricky Nolasco and Houston's Bud Norris are on their radar, as are Angels pitcher Jason Vargas -- whom they had interest in at last year's Trade Deadline -- and Seattle's Joe Saunders, who was a late-season trade from the D-backs and started the Orioles' first playoff win in 15 years in last year's American League Wild Card game. Minnesota's Mike Pelfrey is another name that has come up.

On the surface, the O's are in great shape and are sitting at 42-31, good for 2nd in the impossibly competitive American League East. A closer look shows a team ERA of 4.39, 29th-best in the league. Here's how their starters look:

Age W L W-L% ERA G GS IP ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
Chris Tillman 25 8 2 0.8 3.71 15 15 87.1 111 1.317 1.6 3.3 7.1
Jason Hammel 30 7 4 0.636 5.24 14 14 80.2 79 1.488 1.5 3.2 6
Miguel Gonzalez 29 5 2 0.714 3.75 12 12 74.1 110 1.211 1.2 2.9 6.5
Freddy Garcia 36 3 4 0.429 4.8 10 9 50.2 86 1.243 2.7 1.8 4.4
Wei-Yin Chen* 27 3 3 0.5 3.04 8 8 47.1 136 1.204 0.6 2.3 5.1
Kevin Gausman 22 0 3 0 7.66 5 5 24.2 54 1.622 2.6 2.2 7.3

Assuming Wei-Yin Chen is still on track to return in two weeks, Stacey Long of Camden Chat says the starters likely replaced are obvious:

The weakest spots in the Orioles rotation are veterans Jason Hammel and Freddy Garcia.

It's unlikely that Hammel is going anywhere, so that leaves Sweaty Freddy as the odd man out.

While the Orioles are looking to upgrade the rotation, they'll probably stand pat at 2nd base says Ghiroli:

The plan has always been to have Ryan Flaherty back up Roberts, and that's exactly what you're seeing now. Alexi Casilla has been used sparingly, as Showalter likes to keep him on the bench as a potential pinch-runner late in the games.

As I noted above, Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment, and Flaherty -- while off to a slow start offensively -- has been solid defensively, and that's where the O's place a premium. The Orioles' lineup is one of the best in baseball, and acquiring a second baseman isn't a top priority.

Ghiroli further notes that their lineup is already one of the best and available (realistic) options wouldn't necessarily be an improvement over Flaherty and Casilla.

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