After a pitiful fifth-place American League Eastern Division finish in 2017, the Baltimore Orioles have started to look ahead to 2018. Manny Machado, the teams star third baseman, will likely demand an extraordinarily rich contract. If winning organizations can conjure the cash for Machado, it is possible he leaves Baltimore this offseason.

With that possibility looming over the front office, it seems they have turned their attention to other parts of the team while Machado evaluates his options.

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network has reported Baltimore is placing a hefty importance on starting pitching, and they are looking to sign Alex Cobb. The right-hander has posted a 3.50 ERA in 700.0 career innings pitched with the Tampa Bay Rays. Cobb’s development was hindered in 2013 by a horrific head injury and in 2015 when he had Tommy John Surgery, but he has regained the spark that he had before his head injury.

Cobb, albeit limited, has postseason experience. In two career starts in 2013, Cobb pitched 6.2 and 5.0 innings respectively, while giving up only two earned runs.

Baltimore has pieces such as Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Zach Britton among others. Their issue last season was starting pitching; Their ERA among starting pitching was drastic 4.97 in 2017 — better than only the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers. They obviously need starting pitching help, and they might have a lot of payroll to work with depending on Manny Machado’s contract situation.

Cobb has also been linked to the Chicago Cubs, so Baltimore might have to look elsewhere. There is a strong connection between him and the Cubs’ staff.

There are several pitchers on the open market who could appeal to the Orioles. Among them could be Tyler Chatwood and Michael Pineda. Both have made their names as solid, middle-of-the-rotation pitchers. Pineda has taken well to Yankee Stadium, having far superior years with the New York Yankees than he ever had with the Seattle Mariners. On the other hand, Chatwood has somewhat struggled, but that can partly be attributed to pitching at Coors Field half of the time. Both are guys that would make sense for Baltimore from both a contract and skill perspective.

No matter what happens with Machado or their currently awful starting pitching, the Orioles will be looking to sneak into the 2018 playoffs. Paying Machado a significant sum could handcuff the team in making other decisions. Baltimore needs to keep themselves in control of their payroll, and if that means letting Machado walk in free agency, it might be in their best interest.

About The Author

Josh Schwam

Josh Schwam is currently a senior at York Preparatory School in Manhattan. He has been writing about baseball on personal blogs and various websites since 2014. In addition, he intends to study journalism in college and pursue it as a profession.

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