Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is stressing a reliance on the development of Baltimore's farm system for solutions in the rotation rather than targeting high-priced free agents, according to MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko.
Baltimore has lost a few key players from last year's team that finished 3rd in AL East at 85-77. Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman, and Jim Johnson have moved on to new teams and the O's have only made moor additions so far -- leading to speculation that the team could be interested in upper-tier free agents. Duquette doesn't seem to be considering player like Masahiro Tanaka, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Ervin Santana, despite occasional rumors suggesting otherwise. The latter two of those would cost the Orioles a compensation pick in the first round of 2014's draft as well, which would impede the reloading of the farm system.
In-house options for the rotation include 2013 reliever and former starter Brian Matusz, as well as the highly regarded righty Kevin Gausman. Bud Norris remains a possibility as well, though, the Orioles are also considering switching him to the bullpen to be the team's closer. Baltimore's rotation finished 12th in the American League last year with a 4.57 ERA, whereas the average was a far more tolerable 4.15. Losing Feldman won't aid them in improving that figure next season, and the loss of Johnson puts a strain on the bullpen, but a few breakout performances from their young arms would go a long way toward getting them to where the pitching needs to be.