Wondering about the rotation

The Orioles remain in the market for a starting pitcher, working the same aisles every winter.

They aren’t expected to spend big beyond new deals for their arbitration-eligible players. They’d bypass the pricey pitchers anyway. They want healthy arms, but they’re not going to Whole Foods.

The free agent market isn’t appetizing to everyone. Check it out, courtesy of MLBTradeRumors.com:

Henderson Alvarez (27)
Brett Anderson (29)
Clay Buchholz (32) - $13.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Andrew Cashner (30)
Jhoulys Chacin (29)
Bartolo Colon (43)
Jorge De La Rosa (36)
R.A. Dickey (42)
Felix Doubront (29)
Doug Fister (33)
Jaime Garcia (30) - $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Gio Gonzalez (31) - $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jason Hammel (34) - $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Jeremy Hellickson (30)
Rich Hill (37)
Derek Holland (30) - $11MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Scott Kazmir (33) - can opt out of remaining two years, $32MM on current contract
Mat Latos (29)
Colby Lewis (37)
Kris Medlen (31) - $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Charlie Morton (33) - $9.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Jon Niese (30) - $10MM club option with a $500K buyout
Bud Norris (32)
Ivan Nova (30)
Jake Peavy (36)
CC Sabathia (36) - $25MM vesting option with a $5MM buyout
James Shields (35) - can opt out of remaining two years, $44MM on current contract
Alfredo Simon (36)
Jacob Turner (26)
Edinson Volquez (33) - $10MM mutual option with a $3MM buyout
Jered Weaver (34)
C.J. Wilson (36)

The Orioles scouted Hellickson leading up to the trade deadline, but they couldn’t agree on a deal with the Phillies, who were hoping to pry away Kevin Gausman. They gave some consideration to a reunion with Norris. They’re linked to De La Rosa every year. He’s the new Gavin Floyd.

I pushed hard for Fister last winter, finding him affordable with a big upside, but the Orioles were concerned about him passing their physical. He signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Astros, made 32 starts and went 12-13 with a 4.64 ERA and 1.425 WHIP in 180 1/3 innings.

Gausman-Delivers-Orange-Sidebar.jpgI never said he was an ace.

Fister was sporting a 3.60 ERA heading into September, but he went 0-4 with an 11.74 ERA and 2.348 WHIP in his last six starts over 23 innings.

My math tells me the Orioles still have six starters for five spots. Heck, what’s one more?

They need someone who can be plugged into the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk and come up at the first sign of trouble. They didn’t have much depth breaking camp with Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright accompanying them.

Gausman, Chris Tillman and Dylan Bundy are locks for the opening day rotation. Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley can become free agents. Gallardo’s restructured contract includes a $13 million club option for 2018. The Orioles inherited Miley’s deal that includes a $12 million club option for 2018.

The Orioles are expected to revisit extension talks with Tillman’s representative.

Do the six incumbents fight it out for five spots? Can anyone else join in? I’m really not sure how the Orioles envision it, or whether they’ve got it all figured out in October.

“Do you ever have enough starting pitching?” Duquette asked at the season-ending press conference.

“Yeah, we’re going to be looking for left-handed pitching, we’re going to be looking for starting pitchers. We don’t necessarily have the urgency that we’ve had the last couple years.”

The rotation rode a hot finish to rank 24th in the majors with a 4.72 ERA. No playoff team can be found below it. The Rangers were 16th with a 4.38 ERA.

We’re constantly warned not to be fooled by spring training and September stats, so I assume that also applies to the rotation. Bring in at least one more guy. Give Wilson and Wright another shot and also consider them for the bullpen, since Vance Worley and T.J. McFarland could be non-tendered.

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.

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