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O's seeking bullpen help with Bautista out: 'It is a top priority'

Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With All-Star closer Féllx Bautista expected to miss the 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Baltimore Orioles are looking to shore up the back end of the bullpen.

"It is a top priority," Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Friday, according to MASN's Steve Melewski. "I'm characterizing it as a back-end reliever. I think if that guy has closer experience, that's great. It would be nice. I am worried about Bautista's absence, and I don't believe we felt that fully in September of 2023. We are going to try like hell to bring in some help from the outside for the back of our bullpen."

Bautista was baseball's most dominant reliever in 2023 before suffering a UCL injury on Aug. 26. The 28-year-old racked up a staggering 16.94 K/9 with 33 saves and a 1.48 ERA in 56 appearances.

Elias said he plans to scour the trade market and free agency to improve the bullpen.

All-Star reliever Yennier Cano is currently expected to begin the 2024 campaign as Baltimore's closer.

Elias, who won MLB Executive of the Year earlier this week, added that Baltimore's 101-win season and AL East title have improved its chances to contend for top free agents.

"We are hearing it loud and clear, more than ever, and it's unsolicited," Elias said. "There seem to be every year increasingly more players that are proactively mentioning us at the top of their list or toward the top of their list. That's great. They want to win, and we are a winning team."

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