By John Shea @real_johnshea on July 27, 2014
The AL-East-leading Baltimore Orioles expanded team payroll to a franchise record 107-million dollars before the 2014 MLB season, but might need to tack on a few extra bucks in order to propel themselves to a division crown. The Orioles currently hold a three-game edge over the Toronto Blue Jays in the East. They possess a plus-29 run differential despite ranking 26th in quality starts, but adding starting pitching depth is a must.
The Orioles have been unofficially linked to several starting pitchers presumed to be available on the trade front. Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa is reportedly on the Orioles' radar, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports. De La Rosa is in the final season of a four-year contract and will become a free agent this offseason. He owns an 11-6 record with a 4.19 ERA in 21 starts this season.
After dealing former shutdown closer Jim Johnson over the offseason, the Orioles suddenly faced relative uncertainty at the back end of their bullpen. Zack Britton has emerged as a dominant ninth-inning reliever, though. The Orioles' new-found closer has been fantastic in 2014, posting a 3-2 record with 19 saves while compiling a gaudy 1.74 ERA in 51.2 innings of work.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported earlier this month that Baltimore had engaged in trade talks with the Philadelphia Phillies about veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett, who will become a free agent upon the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. Talks were regarded as "preliminary" and no trade appears imminent. Burnett owns a 6-9 record with a 3.86 ERA in 22 starts this season.
San Diego Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy is just another example of a quality pitcher who has become the subject of trade talks. The Padres are currently undergoing turnover within their front office, although that didn't prevent closer Huston Street from being dealt earlier in July. Kennedy could be moved, depending on the return the Padres desire. He owns an 8-9 record with a 3.66 ERA in 22 starts this season.
The biggest trade target on the minds of the Orange Birds is current Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, who has drawn interest from several teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals. Suzuki was named an All-Star for the first time in his eight-year career this season. He's been terrific all year, driving in 41 runs while registering a solid .309 average. The O's could use more offensive production from behind the plate, making Suzuki enticing.
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