To put it simply, yes. A report from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Tuesday night indicated that Burnett plans to pitch this season, which certainly makes the free-agent pitching market a little more interesting.
The bottom line is the Orioles are in need of a starter, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said this winter that he would be interested in Burnett. There's no reason why that would change now. The O's, who spoke to Burnett's agent at the Winter Meetings, haven't added to their rotation, and Burnett lives in Monkton, Md., making Baltimore one of the most logical choices.
Pittsburgh, where Burnett played last year, is another obvious candidate, although the Pirates said earlier this season they were proceeding as if Burnett was not going to pitch in 2014. Tuesday's report, which comes after a lot of speculation that the right-hander would retire, could also change the market for the rest of the free-agent starters.
What percentage do you give the Orioles to sign one of the following: Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez? What about Kendrys Morales?
-- Jeff, Baltimore
Hmm, I'd say 83.3331 percent. Maybe 84.1222. On a more serious note, Jeff, I'm not one for percentages, but I do think the Orioles need to make a move, and the four names you mentioned are all guys on their radar that they've been linked to numerous times this winter.
Of the bunch, Arroyo makes the most sense because he doesn't require Draft-pick compensation, and that's something that Baltimore is hesitant to give up. He also is from Florida, where the O's have their Spring Training, and his presence would give the club a veteran in their uncertain rotation. Morales' price is still a little steep for Baltimore, and the emphasis is on upgrading the rotation, so I'd put his percentage at less than the trio of starters. There have been reports that Jimenez's asking price has dropped, and with the recent signing of Matt Garza -- by the Brewers for four years and $50 million -- the rest of the free-agent starter dominoes should start to fall soon. The Orioles should be involved.
If the Orioles do not sign any more position players before the start of the season, who do you think we will see playing left field and designated hitter on Opening Day?
-- Michael, Bel Air, Md.
It seems to be David Lough's job to lose, at the very least as a platoon, in regards to left field. Designated hitter could go a number of ways and would almost certainly be a platoon if the Orioles don't sign anyone else. Henry Urrutia, Nolan Reimold and Delmon Young are all candidates to DH, with manager Buck Showalter also hoping to use that spot to help give his regulars a semi day off.
I saw your article on some of the Orioles' top prospects. How soon can some of these guys, like Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, help the O's?
-- Dan, Columbia, Md.
Now. There's no reason not to think that both Gausman and Bundy could help the big league club in 2014. Even with Bundy coming off Tommy John surgery, he could be a second-half addition -- perhaps available out of the bullpen -- provided he stays on track with his rehab.
As for Gausman, he will compete for a rotation spot this spring. Even if he starts the season at Triple-A Norfolk, the young righty showed last year in the bullpen that he knows how to get Major League hitters out. Expect Gausman to become more consistent in 2014 and use the experience of his rookie year to make a push to crack Baltimore's starting five.