Orioles need to be big player in free agency

Big rumor after big rumor poured out of Milwaukee last week during baseball's general managers meetings. While teams like the Marlins were wooing every free agent on the planet, the Orioles were looking for a backup catcher.

Obviously, that's the reason they lost 93 games last year.

I voiced my displeasure with Dan Duquette's expected approach to free agency on MASN's "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" all week long. In all fairness to the new GM, nobody knows just yet what his exact plan of attack is.

We do know it's unlikely Duquette will make a big splash and go after the biggest names on the market.

I'm asking, why not?

With a solid core of talented young position players in place, the impact of adding one top-of-the-rotation starter could be huge. I don't believe the O's are as far away from competing as Duquette implied in his initial press conference two weeks ago.

I understand C.J. Wilson is most likely out of reach. The O's have to be realistic about their chances of luring a big name to a losing team. It's safe to say chasing after Wilson would be a waste of time.

Mark Buehrle, on the other hand, might be worth throwing a shot at. He's extremely coveted as well, but at 32, he knows this is his last big payday. He might be willing to go to any team if he's overpaid.

Paying a pitcher that has 12 years of big league wear and tear on his arm is risky. Buehrle has thrown 200-plus innings for 11 consecutive years. Still, other teams - or, shall I say, contending teams - take those chances all the time. If you want to build a winner, you're going to have to sign veteran free agents, and you're going to have to win the bidding war because there's only so much pitching talent to go around.

If the Birds' 2012 rotation consisted of Buehrle followed by Jeremy Guthrie, I think they're off to a decent start. Then you hope Tommy Hunter pitches like the man who won 13 games for the Texas Rangers in 2010. If not, I like Jake Arrieta as your third or fourth starter. The bottom of the rotation could be strong if Brian Matusz or Zach Britton bounce back and live up to the potential so many scouts saw in them just one year ago. If not, perhaps Jim Johnson makes a successful transition from setup man to starter. If I were him, I do some serious research on how Wilson made the move from closer to a potential $100 million starter in two years.

There's no need for any type of rebuilding effort in Baltimore right now. The O's should follow the Nationals' lead and not be afraid to throw some money out there. The organization needs to warm up to the idea of adding major pieces from the outside.

Hopefully, at the Winter Meetings in December, we'll hear the Orioles in at least one rumor. Just one - that's all I'm asking.