Will a starter move to the bullpen?

Should the Orioles hold onto their six starters through spring training or consider trading one?

Teams say you never can have enough pitching and the Orioles are thinking of making it their slogan in 2017. And yet, it’s worth debating today whether they might want to deal from their “excess.”

We’re talking about only six starters, so maybe calling their supply “excess” is, well, excessive. But there’s room for only five. It’s simple math.

Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are locks. Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley are left to fight for two spots.

No one in the trio is considered an ideal bullpen piece. I asked someone in the organization which of the starters is best suited for a relief role and was told, “None of them.”

Jimenez-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgJimenez has made seven relief appearances with the Orioles in the regular season, including four this year, but it’s mainly been stashing and mop-up duty. He took the loss in the wild card game, allowing two singles and Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off home run, but working the 11th inning in an elimination game was uncharted territory for him.

Jimenez is due $13.5 million in the final season of his four-year, $50 million contract, the largest given to a free agent pitcher in Orioles history. He wouldn’t figure to bring back much in return if they tried to move him, though he posted a 2.82 ERA after the All-Star break and was 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA and 0.829 WHIP in five September starts.

Gallardo is entering the last guaranteed year of his contract, which includes a $13 million club option for 2018. He’s due $11 million next season after going 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA, 1.585 WHIP and one trip to the disabled list.

Gallardo hasn’t worked out of the bullpen since making three relief appearances in his rookie season with the Brewers in 2007. The Orioles are counting on him to be more effective next year after reporting to spring training with a healthier shoulder and in better physical condition.

In his last two starts, Gallardo held the Diamondbacks and Yankees to a combined three runs and eight hits over 12 innings. He gave up three earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.

Miley is viewed by some in the organization as the most marketable of the trio. He’s left-handed and breathing.

Miley is owed $8.917 million next season and his contract includes a $12 million club option for 2018 that increases to $14 million if incentives are met. He went 2-5 with a 6.17 ERA and 1.574 WHIP in 11 starts after the trade and was a combined 9-13 with a 5.37 ERA and 1.422 WHIP in his 30 starts.

Miley’s only relief appearances came in his first two years in the majors with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012. A grand total of four.

Of course, subtracting Miley again would leave the Orioles without a left-hander in their rotation.

In his last three starts, Miley allowed four runs, walked four batters and struck out 23 over 18 2/3 innings. He held the Cubs to one run and one hit over seven innings, striking out nine, in his final start with the Mariners before they sent him to the Orioles for left-hander Ariel Miranda. Miley turned in three straight quality starts prior to the deal.

Trading a starter leaves the Orioles vulnerable if someone else goes down with an injury. They need to improve their depth. But it never hurts to check around and gauge interest. Otherwise, a long reliever may have to come from the rotation with Vance Worley and T.J. McFarland non-tender candidates.

Give me a solution.

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