The price of pitching again puts Orioles in bind

If the Orioles are going to improve their pitching via free agency, they’ll need to spend outside their financial comfort zone or do a lot of sifting to find bargains.

It isn’t just about ignoring the upper-tier starters such as Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and top relievers like Will Smith and Will Harris.

Wade Miley was pretty bad with the Orioles unless you can find a way to positively promote a 5.75 ERA and 1.689 WHIP in 43 starts. He was much better with the Brewers and Astros, though hardly an innings eater, and MLBTradeRumors.com predicts that the Angels will give him $16 million over two years.

If you forgot about Miley or lost track of him, it’s probably because the Astros dropped him from their playoff roster after he allowed 21 runs and 28 hits in 11 1/3 innings in September.

And still, the Orioles can’t afford him.

Not that I’d recommend bringing him back. And not that he wants to pitch at Camden Yards.

Rick Porcello hasn’t come close to the level he reached in 2016 while winning the American League Cy Young Award. He posted a 5.52 ERA and 1.394 WHIP this year with the Red Sox. And the Giants are projected to give him $11 million next season.

Alex Wood has been injury prone and made only seven starts with the Reds this season, registering a 5.80 ERA and 1.402 WHIP with 11 home runs allowed in 35 2/3 innings. The Mariners are projected to pay him $8 million next season.

Trade Rumors believes that reliever Dellin Betances will sign a pillow contract, prove he’s healthy and cash in next winter. It’s going to cost the Rays $7 million by the site’s estimation.

Oriole-Park-at-Camden-Yards-TOR-BAL-2019-Sidebar.jpgThe site speculated that Ivan Nova, ranked 48th in its Top 50 free agent class, could appeal to a rebuilding club like the Orioles. If they’re willing to pay $6 million.

Nova made 34 starts this season for the White Sox, which tied for the major league lead. He allowed 225 hits, which led the American League. He also posted a 4.72 ERA and 1.455 WHIP in 187 innings and served up 30 home runs.

He provides “cheap innings,” as the site put it. But are they too expensive for the Orioles?

You can have Drew Smyly on a one-year deal for $3 million, but you probably won’t like the results.

You can return Pedro Strop to the bullpen after he was included in the Jake Arrieta trade with the Cubs back in 2013 - for $5 million. And after he went on the injured list twice this season and registered a 4.97 ERA and 1.272 WHIP with declining velocity on his fastball.

He averaged 4.3 walks per nine innings, his highest total since averaging 6.0 with the Orioles prior to the trade. And he didn’t magically gain a minor league option. He’s still out of them.

Anyone want to guess what it could cost to arrange a reunion with Brad Brach? After he posted a 6.13 ERA and 1.765 WHIP in 42 appearances and averaged 6.4 walks per nine innings with the Cubs, who released him in August?

Brach was better with the Mets, registering a 3.68 ERA and 1.227 WHIP in 16 games and walking three batters with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

He’s also out of options.

Would you take back Andrew Cashner? He’s also on the market.

Trade Rumors predicts that the Orioles will pass or fail to sign everyone on the Top 50 list, which doesn’t include Brach or Cashner. It’s an unusual occurrence that seems accurate.

Meanwhile, the site has third baseman Anthony Rendon at No. 2 re-signing with the Nationals for seven years and $235 million and Strasburg at No. 3 re-signing for six years and $180 million.

Winning the World Series must have eased all of those financial concerns.

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