Baltimore Orioles: Trade Targets

Posted Tuesday June 4, 2013 at 9:58:11 pm in Real Sports

The Orioles are currently 2.5 games back in the AL East. Along with the Yankees. And the Rays are only 4 games back. In another words, the AL East is a coin toss. And the Wild Card is going to be tough to snag with the Athletics playing well. So the Orioles need some help to get them to The Dance. And not the kind of help that Alex Rodriguez got.

If there's one weakness the Orioles have, it's their starting rotation. Their bullpen is above average. Their hitting is top of the league. Their defense is by some metrics the best in the AL. They have the most stolen bases in the league.

But their starting pitching is suspect. Including today's gem against the Astros by Chris Tillman, here are the starting rotation's numbers on the year:

I wrote an article not too long ago about the trouble from the #5 spot in the rotation. But here are the numbers as a reminder:

Wei-Yin Chen is currently recovering from a strained right oblique. The Orioles are optimistic he'll be back by mid June. His numbers (and left handed presence) are definitely missed:

3-3, 3.04 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, averaging 6 IP per start

But just looking at the current Orioles rotation, there are certainly some question marks:

Is Freddy Garcia for real? I don't see him holding down a 3.57 ERA all season. With the Yankees in 2011 he had a 3.58 ERA in 25 starts. In 2012? A 5.93 ERA in 17 starts. He's very much a question, but he's been a welcome addition. And he could always move to long relief if we obtain another starter.

Jason Hammel. A 5.43 ERA from our supposed ace. Is he the 2.45 ERA, 14 SO, 2 BB in 14 2/3 IP guy from May 22nd and May 27th games against the Yankees and Nationals? Or the 5.72 ERA, 1.57 WHIP pitcher in the 9 games prior?

What do we have in Kevin Gausman? His first 2 starts were abysmal. His most recent was a step in the right direction. But it's still too early to really judge him.

Having 3 question marks in your rotation doesn't bode well in the long term. The offense and bullpen can only carry this team so far. The Orioles need to make a move. And this is knowing full well that Chen will eventually come back. 

So what are our options? In a previous article I pointed out 3 teams we should be talking to: Astros, Marlins, and the Cubs.

But there's also a 4th: the White Sox. For Jake Peavy. He did get rocked (and was pointing to a possible pectoral injury) and does have an injury history. But up until tonight's game, his numbers:

  • 2012: 3.37 ERA, 219 IP, 1.096 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 8.0 SO/9
  • 2013: 3.62 ERA, 64 2/3 IP in 10 starts, 1.098 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 9.2 SO/9

Pending his injury status, he should be a top trade target. He's signed through 2014 ($14.5 million) with a player option for 2015 ($15 million). The player option for 2015 is based on 400 IP 2013-2014 including 190 IP in 2014. Oh, and he can't be on the disabled list at the end of the 2014 season.

Jake Peavy would allow the Orioles some flexibility. Freddy Garcia could move to long relief. The starting rotation would then shape up as such:

Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Kevin Gausman

When Chen is healthy, Kevin Gausman would most likely be optioned and the rotation would then be:

Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez

That is a much better rotation without the question marks of Freddy Garcia and Kevin Gausman. More importantly, if Hammel continues to be ineffective (or is hurt), we have legitimate options in Gausman and Garcia.

If Jake Peavy isn't healthy, the Orioles need to look into some other starting pitching options:

  • Matt Garza (Cubs): 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 9.0 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9, free agent 2014
  • Ricky Nolasco (Marlins): 3.61 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, 7.3 SO/9, 2.1 BB/9, free agent 2014
  • Kevin Slowey (Marlins): 4.16 ERA, 1.284 WHIP, 6.7 SO/9, 1.9 BB/9, free agent 2015
  • Bud Norris (Astros): 3.39 ERA, 1.478 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9, 3.4 BB/9, free agent 2016

Out of the above 4, the order of interest should be:

Garza, Nolasco, Norris, Slowey

Norris would probably be the hardest to pry away. He's young, cheap, and isn't a FA until 2016. Houston would want quite a lot.

That leaves Garza, Nolasco, and Slowey. I'm not 100% convinced that Slowey's numbers hold up throughout all of 2013. So he may not be the best option.

And it all comes down to Garza, Nolasco, or Peavy. Or Lee (requires Amaro to want to trade him, Angelos to pony up, very unlikely).

The Orioles have quite a lot of talent available in the minors as trade chips that teams could be interested in. I'm going to exclude Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Jonathan Schoop. That leaves:


  • Josh Hader: 19 year old lefty with a 2.28 ERA at Delmarva. 1.246 WHIP. 8.4 SO/9.
  • Jake Pettit: 26 year old lefty with a career 3.50 ERA in the minors. 1.188 WHIP. 6.5 SO/9, 2.1 BB/9.
  • Eduardo Rodriguez: 20 year old lefty with a "career" 3.00 ERA in the minors. 1.180 WHIP. 7.4 SO/9. 3.0 BB/9.
  • Mike Wright: 23 year old righty with a 3.30 ERA at AA this year. 1.343 WHIP. 8.8 SO/9. 3.0 BB/9.

Position Players

  • Nick Delmonico: 20 year old 3B batting 287/391/585 - 976 OPS in Frederick.
  • LJ Hoes: 23 year old OF batting 292/372/388 - 760 OPS in AAA over last couple years.
  • Henry Urrutia: 26 year old OF batting 353/419/554 - 973 OPS in AA (Cuban, first professional stint)

Other options are Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta. Jake's stock would certainly be selling low, but as a throw-in he might be a perfect "change of scenery" kind of guy for other organizations.

My gut reaction is that the O's will want to hold on to Delmonico and Urrutia. Eduardo Rodriguez is also highly thought of in the organization. So it's going to be tough to figure out what kind of package would have to be put together to land one of Peavy, Garza, or Nolasco.

That said, I think the following players will end up staying put: Bundy, Gausman, Delmonico, Urrutia, and Schoop. And most likely Eduardo Rodriguez.

It wouldn't shock me to see a Britton + Avery or a Britton + Hoes trade for Garza or Nolasco.

Get one done, O's. Show Baltimore that you're serious about a playoff push.

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer’s view