Time is running out for Orioles to bring a starter to camp

Orioles pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Thursday. By my math, that’s three more days.

Do I remain supremely confident that executive vice president Dan Duquette will sign a veteran starter?

Supremely may be a reach.

FOXSports.com confirmed last night that the Orioles and Blue Jays remain in contact with Ervin Santana’s representatives. The one holdup for the Orioles, of course, is the draft pick compensation.

Santana’s price has come down significantly since the free agent market opened for business. The Orioles had lukewarm interest at best a few months ago, checking Santana’s medicals while aiming their focus in other directions.

Their inability to sign Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett’s preference to stay in the National League have put Santana back in play. They’re also “in on” Ubaldo Jimenez, another pitcher who would force the Orioles to surrender the 17th overall pick.

Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon won’t cost a pick, but he also won’t fill the need for a proven veteran starter to pair with Chris Tillman at the top of the rotation. I just brought him into the discussion, and now I’m removing him.

The Orioles want to hold onto the pick as they continue to preach the importance of drafting and developing their pitchers, and as they continue to rely on their farm system to produce their top players. But they’ve grown more desperate as they enter the final week before spring training.

They’ve got money burning a hole in their pockets. Fans feel as though they’ve been burned after repeated assurances that the team would add a starter.

Duquette has indicated that a signing could come after the Orioles report to camp, but who will be left on the board besides the back-of-the-rotation crew?

Santana, 31, posted a career-best 3.24 ERA with the Royals last season while exceeding 200 innings for the fourth time in the last six years. He also reduced his home runs from a league-leading 39 in 2012 to 26 in 2013.

Santana is 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 career starts against the Orioles, and 2-3 with a 6.38 ERA in seven starts at Camden Yards.

Bud Norris will earn $5.3 million this season, making him the priciest starter in the Orioles’ rotation. Wei-Yin Chen is next at $4.072.

Santana’s price hasn’t come down that far. The Orioles will have to outspend the Blue Jays and any other suitors for him.

Supremely confident? That may be a reach, but so was the idea that Santana would wear an Orioles uniform this year.

Circumstances have changed.

Time is running out.

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