If the Orioles are going to bolster their rotation, which is a primary goal of executive vice president Dan Duquette, they'll probably need to re-sign Scott Feldman or pull off a trade. Their free-agent options are severely limited. They won't spend big and they're not enthused by the market.
The Cubs seem determined to deal pitcher Jeff Samardzija - a report on CSNChicago.com listed the chances at 99 percent - which automatically links him to the Orioles. There's no way around it.
Samardzija would be quite a catch, and not only because he's a former All-American wide receiver at Notre Dame.
See what I did there?
He worked 213 2/3 innings this year. He's a strikeout pitcher, fanning 214 batters this season and 180 in 174 2/3 innings last year. He turns 29 in January. He's signed through the 2015 season. He's durable. He's got serious upside.
In the Orioles' rotation, he's probably a No. 2 behind Chris Tillman. They could battle it out in spring training.
If there's a concern, it's how Samardzija has been a full-time starter for only two seasons and still battles inconsistencies. He's 17-26 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP over that span. But a win/loss record can be deceiving and he's been on some bad teams.
The Cubs' asking price reportedly is steep and would require the Orioles to part with some young pitching that's close to being major league ready, which they're extremely reluctant to do. Reports of discussions centering on catcher Matt Wieters are speculative, but they take on a life of their own.
I'll repeat something I've written on the blog and stated on the air, and what one member of the organization pondered during a recent conversation. How do the Orioles obtain a much-needed innings-eater if they're not willing to fork over a four- or five-year deal and don't want to trade their top pitching prospects?
It's going to be a real challenge unless they win a pitching scratch-off.
I've become a splits kind of guy, and Samardzija is balanced. Right-handers and left-handers bat .246 against him. His 4.20 ERA at Wrigley Field isn't much different than his 4.19 ERA on the road.
Samardzija has posted a 4.38 ERA in the first half and a 3.99 ERA in the second.
It's my dream to write about a Samardzija-Saltalamacchia battery, and a trade with the Cubs would bring me halfway to my goal.
Fingers crossed. Tongue tied.
Shameless plug alert: I'm appearing on "Wall to Wall Baseball" today from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.
Note the change in time and length. And that's what I said.