A look at the remaining pitching market, plus other notes

In case you missed it, Aaron Judge re-signed with the Yankees. It got pretty extensive coverage. And yes, most of the non-Yankees fans in the game are ready to move on to something else now.

As it relates to the Orioles, they added right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson in recent days, but their search for a pitcher they can slot toward the top of their rotation is ongoing. Their choices are lessening.

The biggest pitching fish, or one of the three when free agency began, lefty Carlos Rodón is still out there. It would be a surprise if he ends up with the Orioles, but what a surprise it would be. Other pitchers that might have been in play for the Orioles have come off the board.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker signed with the Phillies for four years at $72 million. Right-hander Jameson Taillon joined the Cubs for four years at $68 million. José Quintana is joining the Mets and Andrew Heaney is headed to Texas.

The team that signs Rodón will lose a draft pick, as he rejected a qualifying offer. Same applies to Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi. Kodai Senga, with no draft pick attached, could be signing soon, per reports, while lefty Sean Manaea and righty Noah Syndergaard are still out there.

Do the O’s go the trade route? Miami right-hander Pablo López is constantly mentioned as a possibility to be dealt. López, 27 next March, has two years of team control left. In 2022 he went 10-10 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, a 2.7 walk rate and an 8.7 K rate. He is projected to get $5.6 million this year via arbitration.

The 2021 National League Cy Young award winner, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, has been mentioned as a trade possibility, although that seems doubtful. Some outlets insist he will not be traded and others say that even if he were, the price would be enormous.

O’s showed toughness: Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made the media rounds at the Winter Meetings this week and had time for the listeners at home on Baltimore radio as well. During an interview this week on flagship station WBAL Radio, host Brent Harris asked Hyde what stands out the most to him from last year’s 83-win team and what first comes to mind when pondering such a question.

“Honestly, it was just a really fun group to be around every day,” said Hyde. “The way we competed and exceeded expectations, I’m super proud of that. I thought we got tougher, honestly, in playing in the division that we play in. I think our guys came together and felt like they could win every night.

“That was a good feeling, going, really, from May on. I think we had the best record in the AL East from June 7 or something on. The feeling of coming to win and that we can win every single night, that was the biggest difference.”

The skipper was correct, by the way. I went and checked the AL East standings beginning with the date he cited, June 7, through the end of the 2022 regular season. The Orioles were the best in the division in that span.

.562 – Baltimore (59-46)
.551 – New York and Toronto (59-48), 1 GB
.505 – Tampa Bay (54-53), 6 GB
.462 – Boston (49-57), 10.5 GB

Hyde said it is exciting to discuss the 2023 team and the expectations to contend for postseason.

“We made huge strides last year and we want to continue," he said on WBAL. "The experience our guys got – and we were a pretty inexperienced club – Gunnar (Henderson) was a rookie, Adley (Rutschman) a rookie, not a ton of veterans around the field, and now we have guys that continue to improve and get better. We’re not satisfied with an 83-win team. We want to play in October. We have a long way to go. These four teams in our division will continue to get better. But happy with the steps we’ve made so far." 

Hyde said it will be a big plus for Rutschman to be on the roster all of next season.

“He didn’t even have spring training with us last year, getting hurt right before spring started. So, for him to have a full spring (will be big). He didn’t know our pitching staff and a lot of our guys and then he just stepped right in. What he did was unbelievable. Just a total package player. It’s a Silver Slug, Gold Glove-like guy each year. He made it look easy and is a pleasure to coach."

The Holliday hype: During an interview with "MASN All-Access" this week at the Winter Meetings, O’s director of player development Matt Blood talked about 2022 No. 1 overall draft pick, Jackson Holliday. In 20 games after the draft, he batted .297/.489/.422/.911 with 25 walks, 12 strikeouts, one homer and nine RBIs.

MLBPipeline.com rates Holliday as the Orioles' No. 3 prospect and the No. 13 prospect across baseball, giving the O’s three in the top 13, which also includes Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez. Baseball America ranks Holliday No. 38.

Host Paul Mancano asked Blood if Holliday can reach the superstar levels some are predicting for him.

“Well, he’s 18, you know, so let’s give him a little bit of time to develop before we put crazy, crazy expectations on him," Blood said. "But I can say that he’s very advanced. For a high school player, he’s as advanced as I’ve seen. And for him to do what he did this season at the levels that he played at his age, the strike zone discipline and the ability to make contact, very exciting for us. As he begins to develop physically and gets stronger and starts hitting the ball even harder, it could be pretty exciting.”  

The Rule 5 pick: Yes, the Orioles made one again, going for a bullpen right-hander. They selected Andrew Politi from Boston. Between Double-A and Triple-A last season he went 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. His fastball, per reports, can touch 97 and his slider/cutter can be a quality pitch. 

The Orioles can always send him back, if he even makes the opening day roster. A team making a playoff push could have a tough time keeping a Rule 5 selection all year.

Politi, a 15th-round draft pick in 2018, was ranked by Baseball America as Boston's No. 23 prospect in 2020 and No. 30 last year.




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