The Baltimore Orioles have been the most aggressive buyers on the trade market, acquiring right-handed starter Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs and right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers.
And the Birds might not be done.
The Orioles, continuing to explore ways to improve their pitching staff, are among the teams talking to the Houston Astros about their available pitchers, according to major league sources.
Baltimore likely would balk at the prospect price for right-hander Bud Norris, but could target former Oriole lefty Erik Bedard or right-hander Lucas Harrell, sources said.
“I think they’re still looking at a ton of stuff,” one rival executive said.
The Orioles, winners of four of five games since the All-Star break, are 3½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East and are 1½ games ahead of the Texas Rangers for the second AL wild-card berth. Still, Baltimore’s rotation ranks only 12th in the AL with a 4.64 ERA.
Feldman has produced three quality starts in four outings since joining the club. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen has made two excellent starts after returning from a strained right oblique. But the Orioles, according to one source, are concerned about right-hander Jason Hammel, who has an .819 opponents’ OPS and 5.20 ERA in 117 2/3 innings.
Rodriguez, their latest acquisition, will fortify the bullpen, pitching somewhere in the late innings and providing an occasional alternative to closer Jim Johnson.
“We’ve been just trying to upgrade our pitching,” general manager Dan Duquette said. “I don’t know if there will be many more opportunities to do that, but we’re going to keep looking around. This AL East is a dogfight.”
The O’s still should be in a relatively flexible position. They parted with two struggling pitchers, right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, for Feldman, and a decent infield prospect, Nick Delmonico, for Rodriguez, adding less than $4 million in the two deals.
Norris would cost less than $1.5 million for the rest of the season, Bedard less than $500,000, Harrell less than $250,000. Other rival pitchers in those price ranges would figure to appeal to the Orioles as well.