I’ve been talking to several baseball people outside of the Orioles organization for the past week or so about the club's trade possibilities as the July 31 nonwaiver deadline approaches.
Everyone basically says the same thing: Dan Duquette will do something.
Duquette traded for Jim Thome and Joe Saunders during the 2012 season. He dealt for Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Bud Norris last year. He’s not going to stand pat. And he could strike early -- he did that with both Thome and Feldman.
Initially, I thought if the Orioles added a piece in the next month, it would be another reliever -- to strengthen a strength, especially if their starting rotation consistently fails to pitch deep into games.
I don’t see them doing what it takes to get a true, top-of-the-rotation starter, which likely would mean trading two of their four best pitching prospects: Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey and Eduardo Rodriguez. Even if bolstering the rotation is this club’s biggest need.
And, really, there aren’t many -- if any -- aces available. It would take a king's ransom to pry left-hander Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays won’t trade left-hander David Price within the American League East, and there are plenty of complications surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee.
So that’s why it struck me as rather interesting that the Orioles have done some serious tire-kicking on Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Because it means the Orioles are not content with their rotation despite having six potential starters. And that they again might be fishing in the second tier of the starting-pitching pool.
From the moment I tweeted last night that the Orioles have been closely monitoring De La Rosa, I received a whole lot of feedback from readers who exclaim that De La Rosa, 33, isn’t better than what the Orioles have. He’s 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 18 games this season -- and he has actually been better at Coors Field (3.73 ERA) than on the road (5.87).
Certainly, the argument can be made that De La Rosa hasn’t shown much this year to be a significant upgrade over the current rotation. But this guy was 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts last year, his first full season removed from Tommy John surgery in 2011. He still throws in the low- to mid-90s, has an excellent slider and has posted a 4.70 career ERA while pitching a lot in Denver.
The question is: What will it take to get him? The Rockies notoriously put a high sale price on their available players. And their owner, Dick Monfort, told The Denver Post in Wednesday’s editions that he wanted to keep De La Rosa.
“De La Rosa has pitched great, and he pitches great here,” Monfort told the newspaper. “I mean, we are going to do everything we can to keep him here.”
So maybe the Orioles can’t get something done with Colorado. But the most interesting thing, to me, is that they are looking for rotation upgrades.
One area the Orioles are not looking to upgrade is at the catcher’s spot. That’s what club executive vice president Dan Duquette told my colleague, Eduardo A. Encina, on Wednesday.
Duquette was asked about any potential interest in veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whom the Boston Red Sox designated for assignment Wednesday.
Pierzynski can hit -- he’s batting .254 with four homers and 31 RBIs this season -- and he'll do anything to win. But his polarizing personality and in-your-face style has irked plenty of people throughout his career.
Duquette rarely discusses other players specifically, but he did make a point of saying he’s content with the tandem of rookie Caleb Joseph, a career minor leaguer getting his first major league shot, and veteran Nick Hundley, whom the club acquired in May once it appeared that Matt Wieters would be lost for the season.
“We really like the way they’ve handled the pitchers and the way they’ve done their jobs on the fly and have managed the pitching staff,” Duquette said.
I think it is fair to say that Pierzynski will end up elsewhere.