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Orioles have interest in free-agent reliever Dustin McGowan

The Orioles are interested in adding free-agent reliever Dustin McGowan, per sources.

The Orioles have expressed interest in free-agent reliever Dustin McGowan, according to multiple industry sources.

The Orioles have reached out to McGowan’s representatives, but they are believed to be among several teams interested in the former Toronto Blue Jays right-hander.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has said he’d like to add one more reliever before heading to spring training, ideally one with a track record of getting both right- and left-handed hitters out.

McGowan, who turns 33 next month, was 5-3 with a 4.17 ERA and one save in 53 games last season with the Blue Jays. He made eight starts last season, but he was better out of the bullpen, going 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 43 relief appearances. He held opposing hitters to a .215 batting average while pitching out of the bullpen.

A first-round pick in 2000, McGowan missed more than three full seasons and needed multiple shoulder surgeries. Since his last procedure in 2012, he’s posted a 3.76 ERA while pitching mostly in relief.

If the Orioles add another reliever on a major league deal, he’d join an already crowded bullpen mix in spring training.

With the exception of left-hander Andrew Miller, the Orioles return all of their bullpen pieces, including closer Zach Britton and set-up men Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes to have optionable players in his bullpen in order to keep his relief arms fresh, especially early in the season. But the Orioles bullpen currently has very few players with minor league options.

Britton, O’Day, Hunter and left-hander Brian Matusz, who is out of options, would appear to be entrenched in their bullpen roles. Right-hander Brad Brach, who proved to be a valuable innings eater last season despite not making the team out of spring training, is now out of options, as is right-hander Ryan Webb, who was sent to the minors for one month in August before rosters expanded in September.

The Orioles also have six starters competing for five rotation spots, so they could bump one of those pitchers to the bullpen. They also signed left-hander Wesley Wright this offseason.

Add left-hander T.J. McFarland, who does have options, and two Rule 5 picks -- right-handers Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett -- who would need to remain on the roster all season and there are already several relievers competing for few available spots.

eencina@baltsun.com
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