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Orioles have much to consider before signing Gallardo, Fowler

The Orioles reportedly have been negotiating with free-agent starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo in recent days. Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles must weigh a competitive future as they discuss the possible signing of pitcher Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler, writes Peter Schmuck. Roch Kubatko digs a little deeper into the Orioles' pursuit.

The Kansas City Royals played to the last inning of the last game of the World Series in 2014, and last fall, they took the next step, beating the Mets for the championship. This group of Kansas City players just accomplished what the Orioles' franchise has not since 1983, not since Cal Ripken ably speared Garry Maddox's line drive.

But the possible window for success for the Orioles is similar to that of the Royals, who have bet a lot on the next two years before Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas become eligible for free agency.

As Schmuck wrote in his piece, the Orioles cannot take lightly the idea of forfeiting their first two draft picks at a time when their farm system is considered to be one of baseball's worsts. Keith Law ranked Baltimore's collection of prospects 27th among the 30 teams. The Baltimore organization has been greatly sabotaged by injuries to its best young minor league pitchers, Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey.

With the Blue Jays built for another run at a division title, the Red Sox improved by the additions of David Price, Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith, and the Yankees and Rays again formidable, it's not even clear that the Orioles can be good enough to compete at the top of the AL East, as they did in 2014. Some rival evaluators believe the Orioles should be realistic, follow the example of many other mid-market and small-market franchises and focus on restocking, going back into a cycle from which they could emerge in another four or five years.

But there are factors pushing the Orioles to go all-in.