The 2023 Baltimore Orioles were baseball’s darlings and Cinderella team. They captivated the baseball world with young exciting players and a different style of game. To keep that excitement going, the team needs to make a few moves to strengthen the lackluster pitching entering the 2024 season.
Starting Pitching Targets For The Orioles
With emotions and excitement exuberating and boiling over in Birdland coming off of 2023, the 2024 season needs to provide some playoff success. With a strong lineup already, the team is in dire need of some starting pitching. With options aplenty where should they turn?
Trade For Dylan Cease
The Orioles need starting pitching more than possibly every other franchise this offseason. The need for a frontline starter, the ace of the staff, is mandatory for this team’s future and World Series window to be opened. With a young controllable ace like Cease, this move would be a home run.
Cease had a down year in 2023 posting a (7-9 record, 4.58 ERA, 214 SO, 79 BB, in 177 IP) after his stellar breakout year in 2022 where he finished second in the AL Cy Young Award (14-8 record, 2.20 ERA, 227 SO, 78 BB, in 184 IP). But Cease has all the pieces to bounce back. He also has team control through the 2025 season which is great for the Orioles and their World Series window.
A change of scenery and a move to a young contending team like the Orioles would help set the stage for the 28-year-old Cease. The Orioles also have one of baseball’s deepest farm systems, so a big trade such as this is not something out of the question. A move like this would signify to the league that Baltimore is ready to be the team to beat in the AL for years to come.
Trade For Shane Bieber
Like in the case of getting Cease, Bieber would fit the bill as well. Coming off of an injury-plagued 2023 season where he only pitched in 21 games for 128 IP, Bieber’s value could be a bit low. One thing to consider here is that Bieber is a free agent after the 2024 season, so unless the O’s want to sign him, he would be a one-year rental.
Bieber who is also 28 years old and will turn 29 in season, is as steady as they come in regards to pitching. 2023 was a bit of an outlier for him. His numbers were not bad, but not like the pitcher we saw win the AL Cy Young in 2020, as well as finish fourth in 2019 and seventh in 2022.
The Orioles would probably have to give up less in a trade for Bieber since he is a free agent after the upcoming season. He is a true ace with some postseason experience that could help this young squad. Bieber would be a huge upgrade for 2024 and possibly longer if they decide to re-sign him.
Trade For Corbin Burnes
Round three, Burnes again is a bonafide ace and could help propel this team to a World Series. Now a move for Burnes is a bit more unlikely as he is a free agent after the 2024 season, and the Orioles need to be smart with their signings with so many young stars on the roster. But a deal this contending team needs to kick the tires on without question.
Also, Burnes has stated that unless a deal blows him away, he will test free agency and he would garner a hefty contract. So Burnes would be a bit unlike the Orioles to go after but a great move, especially if they sign him long-term. Another bonafide ace the team is desperately looking to find.
Burnes, who is currently 29 years old, has stacked together four consecutive great years. He won the NL Cy Young in 2021 (11-5 record, 2.43 ERA, 234 SO, 51 BB, in 167 IP). While also finishing 15th in MVP. Burnes also has playoff experience, which would be gold for this O’s team. With the franchise foundation built, it would be hard for Cease, Bieber, and/or Burnes to not want to re-sign and stay in Baltimore for years to come.
Sign Hyun-Jin Ryu
If the front office decides they want to turn to smaller and cheaper free agent options instead or want to sign someone to pair with one of the aforementioned trades, Ryu needs to be a guy they get. He is a solid lefty veteran at this point with plenty of playoff experience from his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ryu is older and will be 37 years old by Opening Day 2024, but he has always been a solid mid-rotation piece. For his career, he has pitched to a line of (78-48 record, 3.27 ERA, 934 SO, 236 BB, in 1055.1 IP). He has dealt with some injuries of late which has limited him to only 79 IP over the 2022 and 2023 seasons combined.
With that being said, Ryu is still a quality pitcher who again has postseason experience. He also is AL East battle-tested after spending his last four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, he might not be quite the ace the team is looking for, but he would help add depth and strengthen the rotation which is in dire need.
Sign Mike Clevinger
Another quality low-budget move would be to sign Clevinger. A bit of a controversial player over the years, but he has some high upside and potential at 33 years old. One flaw of his is that he has been injury-prone throughout his career. But when he is out there, he is a quality pitcher.
During a four-season stretch from 2017-2020, Clevinger posted a (41-20 record, 2.96 ERA, 553 SO, 178 BB, in 489.1 IP). Those are very solid numbers. Since then his numbers dip a bit, including missing the entire 2021 season. In 2023 he seemed to round into form as the season progressed. And he showed that by throwing back-to-back complete games in September.
Clevinger is a bit of a wild thrower, with high walks but high strikeouts. He is a bit herky-jerky in his delivery, but effective. Clevinger would again help bring depth to this rotation, with the possibility to be one of Baltimore’s top starting pitchers. He would also not cost a whole bunch to get. A move for Clevinger would be a sneaky good move, especially if it is paired with one of the previously mentioned moves.
If the Baltimore Orioles in 2024 want to continue building and prove they are the team to beat in the American League East and the American League in general, they need to make some moves. A flashy move or two, with the young generational talent they already have could launch them to one of the league’s World Series favorites.
A so-called “small market team”, needs to stop with the petty penny-pinching and push the organization fully from rebuilding to World Series contenders. And adding some starting pitching would show that. With some of the big pieces this offseason already traded or signed, the rest of the market is ready to heat up. The 2024 Spring Training is only around right the corner.
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