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Masahiro Tanaka is Signed; Expect the Rest of the Starting Pitcher Dominos to Begin to Fall

January 23rd, 2014 at 8:34 AM
By Josh Michael

The free agent starting pitcher market has been very slow this offseason and all because of a newcomer to the big leagues in Masahiro Tanaka who is coming over from Japan. Tanaka agreed to a mega deal with the New York Yankees earlier this week, and although Baltimore Orioles fans are not happy he went to New York, we can all expect the rest of the starting pitcher free agent market to fall into place now.

'Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo (61)' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Some of the biggest names on the free agent market for starting pitchers such as Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett, and Bronson Arroyo are still available, and the market for them is now moving again with the Tanaka sweepstakes finally over.

Of the five names we just mentioned, only two are realistic options for the Orioles because of their unwillingness to give a free agent starting pitcher more than a three year contract. Burnett and Arroyo will not be requiring a deal that would exceed three years, and Burnett is only looking for a one year deal IF he decides he wants to pitch in 2014. Arroyo's demand has not yet been made clear, but we expect he is looking for at least two years and a vesting option and the team that gives him three guaranteed years may be able to snag him up.

We have made it clear here that Arroyo is the perfect fit for Baltimore's rotation. He has thrown 200 or more innings every season but one since 2005 and that one season he didn't, he threw 199 innings. In addition, he has also made 29 or more starts every season since 2004, and Baltimore could certainly use an arm like that in their rotation as much as their bullpen has been overworked the past two seasons.

Arroyo is not just an innings eater, he is a quality pitcher as well. He may not be that ace the team needs, but he is certainly a solid number two who has boasted a sub four ERA in four of the last five seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. He currently boasts a career 4.19 ERA over 14 seasons in the big leagues and that number would be much lower if not for his first two seasons in Pittsburgh in 2000, 2001 where his ERA was ballooned. Also to note, Arroyo has pitched in the AL East during his time with the Boston Red Sox.

Burnett would not be a bad pick up, but it is unclear whether or not he wants to pitch in 2014, and his track record clearly shows that he is much better in the National League than the American League. Over nine total seasons in the NL, his ERA is 3.63, while his AL ERA is 4.39.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun spoke with Orioles Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette yesterday regarding the Orioles payroll and quoted Duquette with the following'

"We have resources to extend our payroll. Our payroll is going to be closer to $100 million this year," Duquette said. "Having said that, we are going to need to work internally with our young pitchers to bring them along."

'Dan Duquette @ Saber Seminar 2011' photo (c) 2011, Eric Kilby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Duquette continued: "This year, if you said $100 [million] that would be reasonable. I think over the course of four years, we have been expanding our payroll. But we are going to stay within the resources of the market."

Duquette also mentioned that the market was frozen a while as everyone was waiting for Tanaka to sign and that Baltimore has been talking to a few pitchers.

Only time will tell if Baltimore actually does make a marquee free agent signing and the starting rotation could certainly use a boost, and color us bitter, but the proof is in the pudding and until we see the Orioles sign someone of note, we don't expect it.


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Tags: A.J. Burnett, Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Bronson Arroyo, Dan Duquette, MLB

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