This week's biggest Orioles move was involving three players many fans haven’t heard of. On Friday, they added pitchers Parker Bridwell, Christopher Lee and Andrew Triggs to the 40-man roster.
Dan Duquette believes that all three could contribute to the Orioles in 2016, and with the increasingly likely exodus of Darren O’Day and the possible departure of Brian Matusz, there may be some openings.
O’Day has been getting some play in the free agent market, and there was a not surprising report that he was seeking a four-year deal at between $8 and $9 million. Paying that much for a reliever isn’t the Orioles way.
The team will have to decide by Dec. 2 if they want to offer a contract to Matusz, which I think they should, or non-tender him. They could also trade him, but as in the cases of Robert Andino and Jim Johnson, they’re likely not to get very much back.
Matusz’s issue is that he could make $4 million in arbitration, and that’s a lot of money for a middle inning reliever. He justifiably wants an opportunity to start, which some other team could get them, but may have to wait until a year from now to get that chance.
There were reports that the Orioles had engaged with the Pittsburgh Pirates about their longtime second baseman Neil Walker, who earned $8 million last year and is in line to earn much more this year.
While Walker is a useful player, and perhaps the Orioles could use him as a superutility guy, they can’t give up very much for him.
A year ago, the Orioles lost Nick Markakis in free agency, and they needed a new right fielder. They thought they found their man when they traded two minor league pitchers to the Pirates for Travis Snider.
That was a disaster. Not only did Snider not play well for the Orioles, they had to go out and trade for another right fielder, Gerardo Parra.
The two pitchers they sent to Pittsburgh, Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley, both had outstanding years in the minors. Brault is in Double-A, and Tarpley Low-A. Tarpley was in the Orioles’ mini-camp in Sarasota last January, shortly before he was sent to Pittsburgh.
The Orioles traded another promising pitcher, Zach Davies, to Milwaukee for Parra, who may leave, too.
Snider’s trade hurt. Had he played well last year, he would have remained under team control for 2016, and the team could have focused their energy elsewhere. Instead, they had to burn three promising pitchers.
Parra has gotten some rumored interest from the Mets and Seattle, and should he leave they’ll need another right fielder.
The only outfielders on the 40-man roster are Adam Jones and several players who may not play much, if at all, for the team in 2016: Dariel Alvarez, Junior Lake, David Lough, Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia.
They obviously need outfielders, and if they don’t sign Parra and Steve Pearce, will look elsewhere, and that’s what they’re doing.
Duquette may try to go the trade route, but in his four years with the Orioles, he hasn’t pulled off a blockbuster move, and he’s not expected to.
His biggest trade was his first major one, and it worked out well. In Feb. 2012, the Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom was later moved to Arizona for Joe Saunders.
Duquette acquired seven of the players on the 40-man roster by a trade. Duquette acquired Lake, Lee, Lough, Triggs, Brad Brach, Chris Jones and Jimmy Paredes.
Paredes and Triggs were both purchased from Kansas City. Lee was traded for two international draft slots. Brach came for minor league pitcher Devin Jones, who later returned to the Orioles organization. Jones was acquired from Atlanta for Luis Ayala.
The bigger moves, and they certainly weren’t major were getting Lake from the Cubs for Tommy Hunter last July, and Lough, who arrived from the Royals two years ago for Danny Valencia.
In the past 2 ½ years, the Orioles have traded five promising pitchers: Brault, Davies, Tarpley, Josh Hader and Eduardo Rodriguez. Hader was sent to Houston for Bud Norris, and Rodriguez to Boston for Andrew Miller. Hader has since moved on to Milwaukee, and he’s advanced rapidly.
While Duquette said in a conference call last week that another major league team told him the Orioles’ minor league prospects were better than many in the industry think, they can’t keep trading young pitching prospects. They don’t have all that many.
Had Snider worked out, they could have kept Davies, and he could have competed for the fifth starter role—or at least been a possibility for later in 2016.
While Duquette will keep looking for trades, don’t expect them to be major ones.
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