With the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline three weeks away, the Orioles are pursuing trade options, including an upgrade of their starting rotation.
According to industry sources, the Orioles have been closely monitoring and gathering background information on Colorado Rockies veteran left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
De La Rosa, 33, is not a stranger to Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, who was in charge of the Boston Red Sox in 2001 when the club signed De La Rosa out of the Mexican League.
A veteran of 11 seasons, De La Rosa is 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 18 games this year with the Rockies. He has actually been better at hitter-haven Coors Field (5-2 with a 3.73 ERA in nine games) than on the road (4-4, 5.87 ERA, nine games).
Overall, in 96 2/3 innings, De La Rosa has allowed 85 hits, struck out 70 batters and walked 42 — tied for 15th-most in the majors this year. The Orioles currently have two members of the rotation with more walks — Chris Tillman has walked 45 and Ubaldo Jimenez leads the majors with 60.
In 2013, De La Rosa tied a career-high with 16 wins and set a career-low with a 3.49 ERA in 30 games. He missed most of 2012 and roughly half of 2011 after having Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery in June 2011.
The Orioles’ rotation, though better lately, was ranked ninth of 15 teams in the American League in starters’ ERA with a 4.08 mark heading into Wednesday night (when right-hander Bud Norris allowed five earned runs in four-plus innings).
Although the Orioles currently have six starters — including right-hander Kevin Gausman, who is temporarily in the minors — only one is left-handed: Wei-Yin Chen.
So a deal for De La Rosa would further muddy the rotation picture, but it would give the Orioles a second left-hander. The pending free agent is owed what’s remaining — roughly half — of his $11 million contract for this season.
The Rockies are currently battling with the San Diego Padres for last place in the National League West.
Like many struggling organizations, the Rockies are looking to improve their pitching depth throughout their system.
The Rockies moved up from 21st overall to 11th in the last year, according to Baseball America’s organizational rankings. The Orioles, ranked 12th by Baseball America this year, consider their minor league pitching depth a strength.