Should the O’s add free agent starting pitchers?

When the Orioles reach the point of their winter that they consider pursuing a free agent or two or three, should starting pitching be on the list?

Hess-Fires-White-sidebar.jpgIf you lock in Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy to head up a rotation of five, maybe those final two spots should be left for young pitchers. There is a long list of potential candidates for those two spots to include David Hess, John Means, Luis Ortiz, Yefry Ramirez, Josh Rogers, Dillon Tate and Jimmy Yacabonis. That is just a partial list of some pitchers currently on the 40-man roster.

That doesn’t even mention someone from the farm not currently on the 40-man roster, such as lefty Keegan Akin, who could progress closer toward the majors in 2019.

If the Orioles were to sign a back-of-rotation free agent to eat innings, is that really a wise move? Wouldn’t that just take innings away from a young pitcher the club needs to learn about?

Do we really want to see the Orioles make a one-year deal with someone like Drew Pomeranz, Ervin Santana or Edwin Jackson? They could always go the former-Oriole route for pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Miley and Miguel González. Even Aríel Miranda is out there. Remember him?

I’m fine with seeing pitchers already in the organization fill out the final rotation spots. Or pitchers on the 40-man rotate in and out of those spots over 162 games.

You always need pitching, the saying goes, and maybe that applies here as well. But is a veteran one-year stopgap for the fourth or fifth spot in the 2019 rotation the best play for the team right now?

Speaking of pitchers: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel has always been an interesting pitcher for me to watch. One who has success even though he lacks even average velocity and a lot of strikeouts.

But is he going to be able to get a five-year contract via free agency? Last year for Houston, Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, was good, but certainly not great.

He went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.314 WHIP. Keuchel allowed, on average, 9.3 hits per nine innings with 2.6 walks and 6.7 strikeouts. He pounds a sinker in the zone, getting a lot of groundball outs, and allows 0.9 homers/nine. He’s thrown 200 or more innings in three of the last five years, including last season with 204 2/3. His ERA plus of 108 last year put him slightly above league average and equals his career mark of 108.

Keuchel has had success while averaging 90 mph on his fastball and 87 mph on his cutter. He’ll turn 31 in January and MLBTradeRumors.com projected he would get a four-year deal worth $82 million.

Can Keuchel get five years, as he seeks? Should he? The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal for $140 million. Boston signed Nate Eovaldi to a four-year deal worth $67.5 million. So where does Keuchel fit in?

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