BALTIMORE -- As the non-waiver Trade Deadline nears, are the Orioles done dealing?
Baltimore has already made a pair of moves in July, trading for right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman and reliever Francisco Rodriguez, but given the struggles of starter Jason Hammel and the rotating designated-hitter slot, the O's have been linked to numerous other rumors.
And rightfully so. Baltimore, on the heels of a series loss to Boston, has been mulling upgrades as it tries to make a push to win the American League East. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who did part with infield prospect Nick Delmonico in the Rodriguez deal, is open to making another move or two prior to Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Deadline, as the Orioles try to balance being competitive in 2013 while not sacrificing the future.
Duquette, who didn't make any deals prior to last year's Trade Deadline, has made it a priority to upgrade the O's pitching staff, and there are still several intriguing names available, including the Astros' Bud Norris, the Royals' Ervin Santana and White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, all of whom would give manager Buck Showalter another rotation option. They sent Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Chicago Cubs for Feldman in early July, and the right-hander has gone 2-2 with a 5.12 ERA in five starts for the Orioles, allowing 18 earned runs on 31 hits over 31 2/3 innings.
While Feldman has helped eat innings, Hammel has struggled to return to last season's form. He walked five over 5 1/3 innings in Sunday's loss, the latest disappointing outing in a frustrating stretch. The Orioles' Opening Day starter, Hammel is 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA and hasn't won since May 27, averaging fewer than six innings a start since that date.
The addition of Rodriguez from Milwaukee gave Showalter another late-inning arm to go along with closer Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day, and the O's appear set in the bullpen. The right-handed Rodriguez has pitched two innings and allowed one run since coming to Baltimore last week.
The other area Duquette could upgrade is the team's lineup, namely at DH. The offense has sputtered since a hot four-game stretch to open the second half, with Sunday's 8-0 loss their first shutout since June 8. Rookie Henry Urrutia has taken over the bulk of the DH at-bats, and the O's have been linked to numerous bats, including San Diego's Carlos Quentin and Philadelphia's Michael Young, in recent days.
The club's payroll doesn't have much wiggle room, although there is a school of thought that owner Peter Angelos would green-light the right deal, if it would help make the club a contender. Duquette doesn't like to part with prospects -- with the Cubs told Delmonico was unavailable for weeks before the Orioles relented -- but the team's farm system is better off than it has been in previous years. Top pitching prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy remain off the table, and infielder Jonathan Schoop would be tough to give up as well.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.