Bullpen is obvious target for Orioles in trade talks and waiver wire

Let’s state the obvious, get it out of the way and refuse to treat it as fresh news. Think of it as Chinese takeout in the back of the fridge.

Just don’t bother sniffing it first.

The Orioles are trying to find another reliever, making it clear to other teams that they remain in the market. I say “remain” because they’ve been open to fortifying the bullpen pretty much since the first day of spring training.

Losing closer Félix Bautista to Tommy John surgery led them to veteran Craig Kimbrel, who recorded his 16th save Wednesday and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 12 appearances. That didn’t alleviate all of the concerns.

They’d like to strengthen the setup portion of the ‘pen, and closing experience would be ideal. Whether they’d express a preference for a left-hander probably depends on the severity of Danny Coulombe’s elbow injury. Anyone who can get outs.

The sounds of optimism bounced off the walls Wednesday, but the club apparently hadn’t received the results of an MRI or whatever other tests were scheduled. Coulombe didn’t seem worried, and he not-so-subtly dismissed the possibility of a second Tommy John procedure without using those words.

It was easy to figure out what he meant by, “We’re pretty optimistic about it, that it’s not the one you guys are thinking about.”

High-leverage reliever and a mind reader.

That’s a short story for many of us.

The lack of flexibility didn’t creep up on the club. The Orioles knew breaking camp that most of the relievers were devoid of minor league options, which forced them to send down Dillon Tate and trade Mike Baumann.

A young, controllable reliever also would be ideal but this is more about making a spirited run at a championship this season. The same way that they traded for pending free agent Corbin Burnes. Push the chips to the center of the table.

Not all of the trade chips. It’s a poker analogy.

Bryan Baker’s arrival gave the Orioles a fourth reliever with options. They won’t use one on Yennier Cano.

The bullpen has undergone a few changes since Opening Day, though Nick Vespi was in it only because Jacob Webb went on paternity leave. Tyler Wells would be in the rotation or bullpen right now if he didn’t need elbow surgery. Albert Suárez could shift into a multi-purpose relief role after Dean Kremer returns from the rehab assignment that’s coming his way.

Bulk inning consumption hasn’t been a major need on this club but it’s nice to have it available.

The Orioles could go back to a five-man rotation next month, which has seven off-days if you count the All-Star break. An eighth reliever would be welcomed.

However it stakes up, the Orioles are pushing their cart around the reliever market. It appears to be the top priority.

Left-handers in Triple-A include Vespi, Matt Krook and non-roster relievers Tucker Davidson, Luis González and Trey McGough. Bruce Zimmermann hasn’t pitched since May 11 due to a strained hamstring.

Right-handed bullpen options include Jonathan Heasley, Corbin Martin, Levi Stoudt and non-roster relievers Wandisson Charles, Kade Strowd and Julio Teheran. Stoudt was claimed on waivers yesterday from the Mariners after registering a 6.92 ERA and 1.731 WHIP in 52 innings with Triple-A Tacoma. Martin has a 7.45 ERA and 2.483 WHIP in eight appearances since the Orioles claimed him May 13. Teheran made one start after returning to the organization and allowed seven runs and nine hits in four innings.

An intriguing name is Chayce McDermott, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 8 prospect in the system. He could shift to a major league bullpen unless the Orioles are resistant to interrupting his development as a starter.

McDermott has a 3.62 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) with Norfolk. He’s struck out 93 batters in 64 2/3 innings but also walked 41.

The 40-man roster is full but offers flexibility by transferring Wells to the 60-day injured list.

Note: Coby Mayo, on the Triple-A injured list with a broken rib, began his rehab assignment at High-A Aberdeen last night and doubled in his first at-bat.

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