Still talking about starting pitching

Are the Orioles stockpiling fifth starter candidates?

And not just fifth starter candidates, but rotation options that can be optioned. If the Orioles cannot add a more established starting pitcher to their staff, could it be that they intend to have a revolving door of sorts with optionable pitchers in the fifth starter’s role? Maybe take a look at several pitchers and/or go with the hot hand in that spot?

That list could include Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Chris Jones and now Odrisamer Despaigne, acquired in a trade with San Diego on Thursday. It could include others on the 40-man roster like T.J. McFarland, Chris Lee, Parker Bridwell and Jason Garcia. It could also include Vance Worley, but he is out of options.

Jason Garcia black.jpgGarcia seems like a forgotten man. But with that strong finish to last season and that very good arm, he could impact the 2016 Orioles in either the bullpen or rotation, and should not be overlooked.

The Orioles could be reaching the point where any pitcher they might add is less attractive than staying in-house for a starter. While a pitcher still out there might have a stronger track record than a current Oriole, the price in dollars or through trade to get that player could turn out to be too high. But there are still a few candidates out there that could help the 2016 club.

Mat Latos: On Dec. 22, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that the Orioles, Pirates, Royals, Brewers and Rays had checked in on Latos. He said Latos is probably looking at a one-year deal to re-establish his value after going 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA for the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels. Latos has dealt with several injuries in recent years, including a flexor mass strain and bone spurs in his elbow.

But he ranked 14th in the majors with a 3.27 ERA from 2010-2014, ahead of Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, to name three. His career WHIP is 1.18 and career ERA is 3.51.

Andrew Cashner: MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko recently wrote that Cashner is a name to watch and that the Orioles have interest in possibly trading for him. He is slated to earn $7.15 million in 2016, the last year before he can be a free agent.

Last year for San Diego, the 29-year-old right-hander went 6-16 with a 4.34 ERA and allowed 9.7 hits per nine innings. But his ERA was a combined 2.87 over the 2013-14 seasons, which ranks eighth among all big league pitchers with 290 or more innings over those seasons.

Cashner could be a fit in that, with just one year left before free agency, the price to acquire him might not be that high. And he won’t make a big salary number in 2016. If he were added and pitched at all like he did in 2013-14, the Orioles would have a nice rotation addition. Do they have another trade with San Diego in their future?

Yovani Gallardo: While Gallardo went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA for Texas last year, he also gave up 9.4 hits per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.416. Every Oriole that started a game last season except Wright and Bud Norris had a better WHIP than that. But Gallardo’s career WHIP is better at 1.31 and his ERA+ has been 108 or above in four of the last five years, when he has averaged 194 innings.

The club has been reluctant to give up a draft pick, which would be the 14th overall, to get Gallardo. Could his price come down to a point where the Orioles would be OK with losing that pick?

Birthday Bash is tonight: The Babe Ruth Museum is holding its annual Babe’s Birthday Bash tonight from 5:30-9 p.m. at Pickles Pub. I will be a participant in an Orioles panel discussion at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $45 for museum members and $50 for the general public.

For more information, visit www.baseruthmuseum.org or call 410-727-1539, ext. 3033.

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