Acquiring a starting pitcher not on O's agenda

Duquette will look to fill other needs, such as outfield depth, this offseason

Acquiring a starting pitcher not on O's agenda

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Orioles enter the offseason with a list of needs heading into 2017. Starting pitching is not on that list.

"I think we have a little bit more stable pitching staff this year going into the offseason," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told MLB.com Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings. "Our infield defense is strong. We need to address the depth of our outfield -- that's what we are going to be working on in the winter."

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Duquette, speaking of a group that pitched to a 4.72 ERA in 2016 -- ranked 13th among American League rotations, ahead of only Oakland and Minnesota -- cited the O's midseason move to add Wade Miley and a better second half by the rotation overall. Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo are also entering contract years. The rest of the rotation features Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.

"We have some starting-pitching depth," Duquette said. "Some young guys who came through and progressed, and some veterans that have terrific incentive to pitch well.

"Our starting pitching is all right going into the season. They've all won more than they've lost over the course of their career. We have six starters going in, which is something we haven't had."

It is a thin free-agent market for starting pitching and, given the O's needs, it makes sense that they'd instead want to target their other holes -- outfield and catching depth -- with their resources.

Baltimore is coming off a record-spending winter last year, which most notably included Chris Davis' seven-year, $161 million deal, and the club has a trio of players -- Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Tillman -- projected to make more than $10 million in arbitration.

But while the O's rotation did end the season better than it started the year, there will still be concerns about the current group heading into Spring Training. Baltimore's starters went 57-58 with 886 innings pitched in 2016, which was the fourth-fewest innings by an AL rotation.

The starters will have to be better, and much more consistent, next year. Particularly as the team is set for an offseason that won't be nearly as busy as a year ago.

"We have more commitment this year, obviously because of the signs we made last year," Duquette said when asked if this winter posed a difficult test for the front office. "But our aim is the same. We want a competitive team. We want to field a competitive team."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.