Orioles’ top priority is adding another starting pitcher

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The Orioles are still unsettled at closer and could use another bat for the designated hitter spot, but Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports hears that adding another starting pitcher is the club’s “primary focus” at this time.

As we have heard throughout the winter, veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett is at the top of their list. However, he has yet to make a decision about whether he plans to continue his playing career. Kubatko doesn’t see big names like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana as a fit, so if Burnett isn’t a possibility, it could be difficult to find a difference-maker. Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker, Johan Santana, and Chad Gaudin are among the other starting pitchers still available in free agency. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has indicated that he’s more likely to sign a pitcher, but he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a trade.

As of now, the Orioles project to enter spring training with a starting rotation of Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, and Kevin Gausman.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.