So with spring training camps set to open next week, the free agent market is still flush with players, and that includes plenty of pitchers.
Back in October and November - knowing the Orioles have three openings in their rotation - we profiled nine free agent starters. Of those nine, five are still out there.
The four that off are off the market:
* Tyler Chatwood, who signed a three-year deal for $38 million with the Cubs.
* Jhoulys Chacin, who signed a two-year deal for $15.5 million with Milwaukee.
* CC Sabathia, who signed a one-year deal for $10 million with the New York Yankees.
* Miguel González, who signed a one-year deal for $4.75 million with the Chicago White Sox.
The remaining five were Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner and Jaime García. There are certainly plenty of other pitchers still unsigned, including the top two in Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. These were just nine profiled here and five can still be signed.
The Orioles have been linked to Lynn this week. He went 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA last season for St. Louis. Lynn has six seasons with an ERA between 2.74 and 3.97. Since 2012, he ranks 10th in the National League with 96 quality starts, even after missing the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Cobb is familiar with the American League East, having pitched for Tampa Bay since 2011 with a career mark of 48-35 and a 3.50 ERA. We often notice a pitcher’s home run rate if he is going to pitch in Baltimore and Cobb’s career rate of 0.8 per nine innings is strong. In nine starts last year versus Boston, New York and Toronto, Cobb was 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA.
Vargas, a lefty that will be 35 on opening day, went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA for Kansas City and the team went 20-12 in his 32 starts. But that included an ERA of 2.62 before the All-Star break and one of 6.38 in 15 post-break starts. He also had a homer rate of 1.4 in 2017.
Cashner was 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA last summer for Texas, which got him for $10 million on a one-year deal. He reportedly seeks a three-year deal this winter, but now may have to settle for a contract of one or two years. Cashner produced a season with an ERA that was ninth-best in the league in 2017. One reason for that was an average against of .170 when pitching with runners in scoring position. That led the major leagues.
García may well rank fifth of the five still available. He went 5-10 with a 4.41 ERA and 1.408 WHIP for Atlanta, Minnesota and the Yankees. He had just 11 quality starts among 27 outings. He made eight late-season starts for the Yankees and failed to pitch six innings in any of the eight.
By the way, Chatwood and Chacin have signed the two biggest free agent pitching contracts so far this winter. Yep, that is correct. There are only two free agent starting pitchers so far that have signed for more than $10 million.
So where do the Orioles fit in? Who might they still target and actually have a chance to get?
Another title for a former Oriole: For the second time in two years, former Orioles outfielder Luis Matos managed Puerto Rico to the Caribbean Series championship. Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic 9-4 in the championship game on Thursday.
The win was even more special for the team and players in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Maria that struck Puerto Rico in September.
Matos is the first manager to win consecutive Caribbean Series titles since Napoleon Reyes won back-to-back championships with Cuba’s Tigres de Marianao in 1957-58. This was also the first time a team from Puerto Rico has won consecutive titles since 1992-93.
“This is an opportunity you don’t have every day,” Matos told MLB.com. “It’s hard to be a champion in Puerto Rico, to win back-to-back titles and to come here to the Caribbean Series and do the same thing. I know we were able to give some joy and excitement for a week. Puerto Rico is going through a lot of things, but I know Puerto Rico is very happy for this and they are enjoying it right now.”
The Orioles drafted Matos out of Puerto Rico in the 10th round in 1996. He played for the club for most of seven seasons, batting .256/.313/.375.