If, as it is said, you can never have enough pitching, maybe the Orioles need to consider adding a free agent starter on a one-year deal to eat some innings and help the 2019 rotation.
I’ve written before that I’m mostly not on board with adding a pitcher and am just fine with seeing young pitchers fill out the final two rotation spots. That is after a front three in some order of Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy.
But what if there is a chance to trade one of those three with a deal that the Orioles find inviting? What if there is an injury and/or the young pitchers need more time on the farm? If the club could get a veteran on a reasonable one-year deal, or perhaps better yet, on a minor league contract, that may be worth pursuing.
Along those lines, thinking one-year deals only, here are three who could find their way onto the team’s radar.
Ervin Santana: He has had a very solid 14-year career with a 4.06 ERA and 149 wins. For a five-year run from 2013 through 2017, he went 53-44 with a 3.52 ERA, and that produced a five-year ERA plus of 116. He pitched 908 innings in that span.
Santana had a real strong 2016-17, going 23-19 with a 3.32 ERA and was 11th in the majors in innings pitched with 393. He allowed a slash line of .235/.293/.387. He was seventh in the American League Cy Young race in 2017, going 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA.
With all those good numbers, he can be had on a one-year deal? Yes, he possibly could because he made just five starts last year after undergoing right middle finger surgery in February. And he went 0-1 with an 8.03 ERA and 1.622 WHIP over 24 2/3 innings for the Twins. If teams are scared off by the injury, maybe he could be in play for the Orioles.
MLBTradeRumors.com rated Santana the No. 49 free agent and projected he signs a one-year deal for $6 million. Fancred Sports had him No. 58 and getting a one-year pact for $5 million.
Drew Pomeranz: He would be a southpaw in a rotation that will feature at least three right-handers. But in 2018 Pomeranz dealt with biceps tendinitis and a neck injury. He was limited to 26 games, 11 starts and 74 innings for Boston, going 2-6 with a 6.08 ERA. The year before, he made 32 starts, throwing 174 innings. The year before that, he was an All-Star.
Over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Pomeranz was 28-18 with a 3.32 ERA, throwing 344 innings. At 30, he could sign a one-year, make-good deal to try to prove he’s healthy and effective again, and then go back on the market.
He was listed as the No. 42 free agent by ESPN, No. 50 by MLBTradeRumors.com and No. 73 by Fancred Sports. Projections had him signing a one-year deal for $5 or $6 million.
Edwin Jackson: Yes, Edwin Jackson. The 35-year-old right-hander who has pitched for 13 teams in a 16-year career. That includes three games and five innings for the 2017 Orioles.
He was not only good for the 2018 Oakland A’s, he was real good. Oakland signed Jackson to a minor league deal in early June and called him up late in the month. Then, over 17 starts, he went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA over 92 innings with a 1.217 WHIP and a .221 batting average against. The A’s went 14-3 in his starts.
Jackson’s ERA was sixth-lowest in the American League from June 25 through the end of the season. He also rated third in opponents’ average and seventh in slugging percentage (.386) and OPS (.687) over that stretch and was tied for fourth in games started. So, yeah, he was real good for Oakland. Fancred rated him the No. 57 free agent and projected he’d get a one-year deal worth $5 million.
So if the Orioles look at free agent starters, there will some available on one-year deals. They could serve as placeholders for other young pitchers until they are ready.
But the Orioles have several young pitchers we’ve already seen pitch in the majors, and some of those hurlers could just as easily fill out the final two rotation spots. That list includes David Hess, John Means, Luis Ortiz, Yefry Ramirez, Josh Rogers and Jimmy Yacabonis. That is just a partial list of some pitchers currently on the 40-man roster. We can add Dillon Tate, who is on the 40-man, but has yet to pitch in the big leagues. We could add possibles from the farm, including Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, just to name two.
With those options among their young pitchers, do they go with what they have or look to add a starter from outside the organization?