While the free agency market has basically cooled off, there are still teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies with very clear needs to address. For both teams it’s about improving their rotation, but finding a suitable starting pitcher at this point of the offseason is difficult.
The big name out there is Yovani Gallardo with both teams being linked to the almost 30-year old pitcher, who spent last season with the Texas Rangers. How serious are they about him? He’s no doubt the best pitcher left to sign, but the Orioles, who were a bit hotter regarding Gallardo a couple of weeks ago, don’t want to give up the 14th overall draft pick they’d be forced to waiver due to Gallardo declining his $15.8 million qualifying offer.
Another player the Orioles might have set their sights on is Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres, who is on a one year deal (arbitration) worth $7.15 million before hitting free agency in 2017. After two pretty good seasons with the Padres in 2013 and 2014 he had a rough 2015. His ERA rose to 4.34 through 31 starts and 184.2 innings, posting a 1.440 WHIP and his strikeout to walk ratio dropping to just 2.50. This makes him not too difficult to negotiate for. The Orioles don’t want to give up draft picks or prospects after bleeding out pitching talent over the years like Zach Davies, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley, among others.
While the Padres initial decision this offseason was to only trade from its bullpen, getting anything for Cashner could be worth their while considering he’s not going to be with them after this season and although he’s just 29, last season did show worrying signs of where his career might be headed. The Rockies, who recently traded away Corey Dickerson, did get a pitching prospect out of it, but that doesn’t deal with their problematic situation right now.
One pitching talent who is a free agent but everyone seems to be afraid of is Mat Latos who bounced around three different teams in 2015 (Marlins, Angels, Dodgers). He overall played 24 games, starting 21. He had a 4.95 ERA after some very good seasons in Cincinnati, posting a 1.307 WHIP although his strikeout-walk ratio of 3.13 was better than in the past. The problem with him seems to be behavioral rather than ability, and considering how low the market is for him, he might be inclined to sign a team-favorable one-year deal.
The Orioles made their big move this offseason by holding on to Chris Davis, while the Rockies added Gerardo Parra, held on to Gonzalez and shipped away someone everyone thought they’d hold on to. While the Rockies don’t rebuild or start the baseball’s version of “tanking”, they don’t seem good enough to contend in an ambitious NL West. The Orioles? They are in a tough division but have more talent then Colorado, but to really shape themselves up to be contenders in 2016, an upgrade to their pitching staff seems like a must.