The Baltimore Orioles could be looking to sell after a dreadful series against the Chicago Cubs. Let’s break down what moves make sense for the club.
The Orioles were hopeful that a second-half push could get them in the playoff hunt after winning the last two games heading into the All-Star break. That was before the Cubs came to town and squashed those dreams.
In just three days, the Orioles went from potential buyers to sellers. After allowing 27 runs and the starting pitching continuing to implode on a daily basis, there have been rumblings about players being on the move. Ken Rosenthal broke the news – on Facebook of all places – prior to yesterday’s finale against the Cubs and it sent a buzz around Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The franchise was hopeful to get by with a starting rotation that is the worst in the American League. It hasn’t played out that way. But Dan Duquette would not be doing his job if he was not prepared for this situation. The players in discussion are the some ones that everyone has speculated in February that could be on the block should the Orioles be in this position.
We have known all along that Seth Smith, Welington Castillo and Hyun Soo Kim could be trade candidates should things go south. All are on expiring contracts and could make for solid additions for a playoff contender. Trey Mancini has performed far better than anyone could have expected. Joey Rickard always seems to make a clutch play when inserted in the lineup. That has made it difficult for Smith and Kim to get on the field. Why not get something in return if another team is interested in a player that is not contributing? They will not draw the type of return that is going to restock the minor league system, but the O’s also have some young outfielders who could get a look in September when rosters expand.
Baltimore’s bullpen could be the most at risk as the Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly interested in Zach Britton, and Brad Brach and Darren O’Day are allegedly on the table as well. The Orioles strength could be gutted by the end of the month, and realistically, it makes the most sense to send Britton packing. Duquette should get a nice haul in return in exchange for Britton with him being under control for another season and the O’s not expected to shell out the money it will take to keep him with the club.
The same could be said for Brach, who also will be a free agent after 2018. Teams are willing to deal quality prospects in return for relievers and we saw it first hand in the deal to acquire Andrew Miller in 2014. O’Day will be more difficult to move because of his contract and he has had a huge impact on how the bullpen has been successful under Buck Showalter.
Many are up in arms about Duquette placing Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Mychal Givens on the “untouchable” list, but that is the position he has to take. The Orioles cannot come off as desperate to make a move just for the sake of making a move. Givens is under team control until 2021 so it makes no sense to put a young talent on the block. Could we see Machado or Jones gone by the trade deadline? If Duquette is overwhelmed by an offer, he has to take it, but there is no real rush to send the team captain and arguably best player out the door for players that cannot guarantee success.
That is why it is important to stress that while the O’s would get prospects in return, there is also the potential to send the franchise in disarray. Everyone expects that the Orioles farm system will be instantly replenished based on a couple moves. That very well could be the case, but there is no assurance that a trade works out in their favor, either. Just because the New York Yankees had success with it does not mean it will be the same here. There is a winner and a loser for almost every trade.
As Rosenthal mentioned, the Orioles could follow the Yanks approach of selling off a few high quality relievers and getting rapid rewards. Things have not gone according to plan in 2017, there is still one more season with much of the team’s core to make another run. They still have talent to make a push next year if the right pieces come in return.
That is if they find some quality starters next season or it could be more of the same next July.
Joe Serpico can be found on Twitter @JoeSerp