Hutchison a consideration as Orioles seek starting pitchers

The Orioles have four catchers on their 40-man roster after Friday’s trade with the Brewers that gave them Andrew Susac, a former top prospect for the Giants who hasn’t hit in the majors, but is the depth move that executive vice president Dan Duquette sought before spring training.

The roster is full and the Orioles still have three openings in their rotation. They can create room, of course, but it’s been easier to find catchers and utility infielders than starting pitchers.

This isn’t the news that fans are yearning to hear.

duquette-at-opacy.jpgThe club’s list has been compromised by escalating salary demands and poor medicals. However, they’ve been interested in right-hander Drew Hutchison, who was outrighted by the Pirates in September and later became a free agent.

Hutchison, 27, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 when he made a combined nine appearances with the Blue Jays and Pirates. He was paid $2.3 million last summer, a generous sum to keep him at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was 9-9 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.293 WHIP in 159 1/3 innings.

General manager Neal Huntington caught plenty of heat for trading away Francisco Liriano and prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez for Hutchison, paying him $2.3 million and designating him for assignment.

In 82 major league games, Hutchison has gone 30-21 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.365 WHIP over 417 2/3 innings. He underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow in 2012.

The Orioles have gotten to know Hutchison from those Blue Jays days. He’s 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.053 WHIP in 12 starts against them, including an Aug. 6, 2014 game at Rogers Centre when he allowed one run and one hit - on Chris Davis’ homer - in 8 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in 6 1/3 innings at Camden Yards on Sept. 16, but also surrendered six runs in an 8-2 loss.

On April 23, 2015, Hutchison took a perfect game into the sixth against the Orioles in Toronto and allowed two runs over eight innings with no walks and seven strikeouts in a 7-6 win.

As part of baseball’s small world, Miguel Castro earned the save despite giving up a three-run homer to Manny Machado in the ninth. Castro is vying for a spot in the Orioles rotation.

Anyway, I’ve heard that Hutchison is a guy who’s been on the club’s radar. They need to do something, with Duquette stating at FanFest that he’d like to get starters into camp by March 1.

Plenty of them remain on the market while agents take turns threatening owners. Here’s the list from MLBTradeRumors.com:

Brett Anderson (30)
Jake Arrieta (32)
Clay Buchholz (33)
Trevor Cahill (30)
Andrew Cashner (31)
Jesse Chavez (34)
Alex Cobb (30)
Bartolo Colon (45)
Yu Darvish (31)
R.A. Dickey (43)
Scott Feldman (35)
Jaime García (31)
Matt Garza (34)
A.J. Griffin (30)
Jeremy Hellickson (31)
Derek Holland (31)
David Holmberg (26)
Drew Hutchison (27)
Ubaldo Jiménez (34)
John Lackey (39)
Francisco Liriano (34)
Jeff Locke (30)
Lance Lynn (31)
Wade Miley (31)
Ricky Nolasco (35)
Jake Peavy (37)
Anibal Sanchez (34)
Hector Santiago (30)
Chris Smith (37)
Chris Tillman (30)
Jason Vargas (35)
Edinson Volquez (34)
Hideaki Wakui (32)

Tillman remains a possibility. Lynn and Cobb remain too expensive. Cashner and Vargas drew early interest. I have a better chance of making the rotation than Jiménez.

Going back to Susac, he has a minor league option remaining and could open the season at Triple-A Norfolk. He’s been susceptible to injuries and his second trip to the disabled list last summer was due to recurring headaches that eventually subsided with medication and occasional use of oxygen.

If this is the last catching move made by Duquette, it’s safe to make Caleb Joseph the favorite to start on opening day. Susac would be competing with Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns for the backup job. Sisco is the only left-handed hitter.

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