As we reported last night, the salary of Joe Blanton is a sticking point in a deal to bring the husky right-hander to Baltimore. The Orioles just aren’t paying $3 million or anything close to it for a two-month rental, No. 4-type starter

So if not Blanton, whom do the Orioles get to put in their starting rotation?

There aren’t a lot of choices.

Lefty Jason Vargas long has been a guy the Orioles have liked – they talked about dealing for him this winter. And Vargas is having a solid year, albeit with his home games at Safeco Field.

Vargas, 29, is 11-7 with a 3.76 ERA with a terrible Mariners’ club. But he has given up 25 homers in those 22 games and his road ERA (4.67) is two runs higher than his ERA at Safeco (2.63).

And, more important, two industry sources say the Mariners are asking a lot for Vargas, who has another year of arbitration left. And the Orioles -- you may have read this before -- don't have much to give up. So that doesn't look like a fit.

Other names that have come up include Arizona’s Joe Saunders (5-7, 3.62 ERA in 17 starts) and Houston’s Bud Norris (5-8, 5.02 ERA in 19 starts), but neither is looked at as a difference maker. Just another back-end guy in a patchwork rotation.

The sense is that executive vice president Dan Duquette is going to do something – he is still looking for a corner infield/outfield bat and a lefty reliever as well as a starting pitcher – but time is running out for a non-waiver player.