newsorioles finally acquire starting pitcher in offseason cole irvin heading to baltimore

Orioles finally acquire starting pitcher in offseason: Cole Irvin heading to Baltimore 

baltimore orioles
(© Heath Oldham – Shutterstock)

The “liftoff” Baltimore GM Mike Elias promised would happen this offseason hasn’t exactly materialized. But incrementally, the Orioles have improved their roster since the end of the 2022 season.

Thursday, the improvement continued with a trade for a starter who will immediately become part of the starting pitching rotation.

Baltimore completed a trade with the Oakland A’s on Thursday, with lefthander Cole Irvin the centerpiece heading to the Orioles in a three-player deal. The Orioles also acquired right-hander Kyle Virbitsky in the trade.

In return, the Orioles tapped into their pool of young infield talent by sending shortstop Darell Hernaiz to Oakland. Hernaiz was rated as the No.16 overall prospect in the Baltimore system.

For the entire offseason, the theme for the Orioles was simple: the need for more starting pitchers, and the path to acquiring pitching would be through the depth of their infield prospects.

That agenda led to Thursday’s trade two-for-one trade with Oakland.

The skinny on Irvin 

Irvin turns 29 years old next week, so he’s no spring chicken. He is young in service time and will not reach arbitration eligibility until 2024, and doesn’t reach free agency until after the 2026 season. That’s what made him especially attractive to the Orioles.

Irvin is 6’4’’ and was originally drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round. After the 2020 season, the Phillies gave up on him, trading him to Oakland for cash considerations.

The past two seasons, in the starting rotation for Oakland Irvin has started 62 games, throwing 359 innings.

Why Irvin? 

Irvin satisfies much of what Elias sought this offseason. During a radio appearance Thursday evening on WBAL, Elias said this. “We were not going to rest on improving the roster before heading to Sarasota, (Orioles spring training location). We continue to be open to established starting pitching. Irvin has been durable and gives us that lefthander we were looking for.”

OK, so what does the trade mean? 

Well, the Orioles finally traded for a pitcher. The big question is this, is he any good? Before today, I had absolutely no knowledge of Cole Irvin. Looking at his past two years in the Bay area doesn’t exactly make me believe the O’s have hoodwinked Oakland.

But Irvin did a decent job of eating innings over the last two seasons, averaging about 180 innings for a woeful team. His 3.98 ERA from 2022 is a significant improvement of what we saw in the Orioles 2022 rotation.

The reason for my optimism is that the Orioles obviously have a plan to tweak some of Irvin’s mechanics, and pitching in front of “Walltimore” half the season can only help Irvin.

Elias has yet to give me any reason to doubt him. It’s going to be interesting to see how this trade works out.

Virbitsky, 24, is listed at 6’7”. The 17th-round pick by Oakland in 2021 pitched in the High-A level in 2022. He struck out 140 hitters in 126 innings.

It’s hard to get a gauge on a player that still hasn’t reached Double A ball yet.

Pitchers and catchers report to camp Feb. 14th. As of Thursday, the O’s have two fresh faces heading to Florida.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.

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