Every February in Sarasota, young pitchers arrive at Orioles camp for spring training with the idea that a big league rotation spot is there to win — until a late-signing free-agent pitcher snatches it up and consigns them to the minors. This year, that isn't expected to be the case.
On the six-year anniversary of Adam Jones' contract extension that kept him off the free-agent market and in Baltimore through his prime, he and the club reflect on what made the last such deal they signed worthwhile and why others haven't had the same opportunity.
The Orioles have used deferred money in their long-term free agent contracts for five offseasons. It was used to entice Alex Cobb this year, and the money saved on present commitments with deferred money was used toward his 2018 salary.
The Orioles have signed pitchers late in spring training before, as they did with Ubaldo Jiménez and Yovani Gallardo. But there's little precedent for getting a pitcher ready who signs as late as they're about to bring in Alex Cobb.
Five pieces of fallout from the Orioles' four-year agreement with right-hander Alex Cobb, including what happens to the rest of the fifth starter candidates, how they build a bullpen and bench, and what it says about the Orioles both this year and going forward
The Orioles arrive at the holidays in a familiar place - needing to adding starting pitching and fill most of their offseason needs - but the Manny Machado trade saga and Zach Britton's injury make it so they got to this point in tumultuous fashion.
Depending on whether the Orioles decide to crack open their coffers for big-name starting pitchers in free agency, shop in the middle of the market, or wait it out until January, there are plenty of ways they can rebuild their rotation this offseason.
Nobody wants to ponder how the upcoming season will turn out if Chris Tillman goes missing from a starting rotation that was beginning to look like it might bloom into something other than the major weakness of a solid playoff contender.
There is only one conclusion to be drawn from Tuesday's revelation that Orioles ace Chris Tillman will not be ready to start Opening Day as he continues to experience right shoulder soreness: This is something the Orioles could absolutely not afford to happen to their paper-thin starting rotation.
There's still a few weeks remaining in the Orioles' offseason, but even with the roster not necessarily finished, the re-signing of slugger Mark Trumbo to a three-year contract makes clear that their core beliefs haven't changed.