Orioles still covet top free agent pitching, but is it worth it?

Yesterday, there was a report that the Baltimore Orioles were still in contact with free agent pitchers Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jake Arrieta’s agents.

In addition to the Orioles monitoring the top free agent pitchers, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Washington Nationals are doing so as well, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi.

Earlier during the offseason, the Chicago Cubs signed Yu Darvish to a six-year/$126 million deal. The Orioles and New York Mets signed right-handed starter Andrew Cashner and lefty Jason Vargas respectively, both for two-year/$16 million deals. What’s the issue with Cobb, Lynn and Arrieta?

We may have found the reasoning behind the slow market development between the three.

Cobb and Arrieta are familiar faces to Baltimore. Cobb, 30, pitched in six seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays, compiling a 48-35 record, 3.50 ERA and 1.217 WHIP. He pitched to a 12-10 record, 3.66 ERA and 1.221 WHIP in 179.1 innings pitched in 2017. One thing to take into account is his ERA at Camden Yards, which sits at 5.71 in the past three years. He has also dealt with a partially torn UCL in 2015. He wouldn’t return until later on in 2016, where he had an 8.59 ERA in 22.0 innings. Cobb has averaged 115 innings pitched per season.

Arrieta, 31, pitched for the Orioles from 2010-2013, often struggling. Through those first four seasons in the Majors, Arrieta pitched to a 24-27 record, 5.23 ERA and a 1.428 WHIP in 409.2 innings pitched. Despite that, he has since turned his career around. From 2014-2017, Arrieta has been one of the best pitchers in the Majors. With a 64-29 record, 2.67 ERA and 1.028 WHIP in 751.1 innings pitched. In the past couple of seasons, Arrieta’s ERA has slowly risen from 1.77 in 2015, to 3.10 in 2016, then finally, 3.53 in 2017. Arrieta has averaged 145 innings pitched per season.

Lastly, Lynn, 30, has been successful for the majority of his career, pitching to a 72-47, 3.38 ERA and 1.288 WHIP in 977.2 innings pitched. He pitched to an 11-8 record, 3.43 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 186.1 innings in 2017. Lynn has not had an ERA above 3.00 ever in his career, which should being enticing to teams. Lynn was on the shelf for the entirety of the 2016 season, due to Tommy John surgery. Lynn has averaged 163 innings pitched per season.

The issue between the three is either their injury history, their drop off in play or their age. All three pitchers are 30+ and they most likely won’t get healthier as time goes on. Baltimore is most likely waiting for the price to go down on all three pitchers and the other organizations involved in the pitching sweepstakes are also adding their two cents on these players. It’s not to say that none of the three pitchers aren’t good, but they have a few knocks against them.

With that all being said, the pitcher that makes the most sense for Baltimore to sign in Lynn, if one were to look at his track record. He has been the most consistent out of the three, but he has also pitched in the same park for the entirety of his career. There are many things to take into account, but the Orioles have the final answer for their rotation if they choose to make a move.

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(Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images)

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Kyle Andrews
Born in Norfolk, VA, raised in the Baltimore area and currently living there. Originally pursuing a degree in exercise science at McDaniel, Andrews became interested in sports writing. He was the sports editor of McDaniel's newspaper in 2014 and became an English major, and hasn't looked back since.

Bylines at Fox Sports 1340 AM, Bullets Forever, Baltimore Beatdown, Underdog Dynasty and many other sites.