David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates might be forced to give up draft picks to improve

There is unique pressure on the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Starved for success for a long period of time, they have both emerged as contenders in recent seasons. They reached the postseason. Neither team would trade that success, of course, but with it comes the pressure to repeat those winning ways. One winning season won’t be good enough: it needs to be sustained.

Faced with the prospect of contending in crowded divisions and having not made moves this off-season, the Orioles and Pirates might be among the teams that find themselves at the mercy of the draft pick compensation program as Spring Training approaches.

The free agents to whom Cafardo is alluding, of course, are the well-known players by now: Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Nelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales.

Will urgency meet urgency? Will the Orioles give in and pay Santana or Jimenez to provide much-needed rotation help? Will the Pirates, who insist they are happy with their roster as it stands now, end up snagging Morales to play first base and lengthen their lineup?

Both teams might prefer to hold onto their pick and play the long game, but they would do so at the risk of falling back to the bottom of the standings in 2014 without no off-season activity to point to in defense of their efforts. That pressure might force one or both of them to give in and sign one of these free agents.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Pittsburgh Pirates

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