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The Orioles and free agent pitcher Braden Looper haven't signed anything yet, but Orioles fans have reason to hope that club president Andy MacPhail will take advantage of the receding free agent market to fill one more hole in the starting rotation.

The only certain members of the starting rotation are Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara. Looper would fit into the No. 3 hole and left-hander Mark Hendrickson likely will open the season in the rotation because, well, he's left-handed, which would leave just one rotation slot open to competition from the team's stable of young pitchers.

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The Orioles still must convince Looper to choose Baltimore over Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, so don't get your hopes up just yet, but the market for free-agent pitching has softened to the point where Jon Garland -- who originally was seeking a multiyear deal worth $13 million per season -- just accepted a one-year deal (with a mutual option) reportedly worth $6.25 million to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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