SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles no longer appear to be in an aggressive mode to find a starting pitcher as the first full-squad workout is held later today.
They’ll keep checking the market, but it’s possible that left-hander Tommy Milone is the last candidate to join the fray.
One phone call can swing the momentum. However, the Orioles seem satisfied with their pitching numbers in camp - the grand total has reached 36 - and there hasn’t been any progress made toward a major league deal that they’ve been willing to extend.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said last week that the club wouldn’t necessarily stop after finding one more starter, but the odds have increased a bit.
As other executives do in spring training, Elias will monitor which pitchers exercise opt-out clauses in their contracts or become more desperate to accept offers as baseball draws closer to opening day. The month of March can throw a scare in some guys.
“I wouldn’t close the door to it,” Elias said yesterday at the Media Day event in North Port. “I don’t know that there’s a likelihood or definitely not anything pending. But it’s still early enough in camp where we will be open to opportunities.”
The clock is ticking. A new starter needs ample time to get ready.
The longer the delay in signing, the more likely that the pitcher will be kept back at extended spring training.
“I think at some point we might be a little mindful of the calendar and go with what we have,” Elias said, “but we’re still monitoring which free agents are available.”
The camp roster already is filled with starting candidates. Is there a number that becomes too large and cumbersome? That interferes with the preparation of the other pitchers?
“We want to have enough innings for these guys to get built up to show what they have, so that we can make an informed decision,” Elias said. “But I think we said all winter we wanted about eight candidates. Sometimes guys get hurt in spring training. It happened last year with Alex Cobb. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but odds are there’s usually something and we’re going to need depth throughout the season, as well.
“So I feel like the number we have, especially given the uncertainty we have, the competition that we have in the starting rotation is kind of where we want to be right now.”
Interest in Andrew Cashner hasn’t evaporated, from what I’ve gleaned, and he remains a possibility for the Orioles as long as he’s still a free agent. But there are teams interested in using him as a reliever, which makes it a little harder to read the market.
Whether Cashner finds a bullpen role more appealing at this stage of his career is one of the unknowns.