On June 20, via Jeremy Conn of CBS Baltimore, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago said the Orioles are serious contenders in a potential trade for hurlers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, as well as Alfonso Soriano.
According to Conn, Levine said "one of the Orioles' top scouts was in Chicago for an entire week checking out the Cubs and White Sox."
It is no surprise the Orioles need to bolster their starting rotation beyond Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.
Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter have been inconsistent at best this season. These three pitchers are a combined 11-21 with a 5.53 ERA.
While Hunter may not be going anywhere, Matusz and Arrieta are both young pitchers who have shown flashes of greatness. They may be great additions to a Cubs team looking to load up on young talent—in a division that is a far cry from the AL East.
In return, the Orioles may receive two solid veteran pitchers in Dempster and Garza, both of whom are fierce competitors looking to move to a contender.
It is indisputable adding both pitchers would bolster Baltimore’s chances of winning the AL East.
Yet it would be uneducated to say the Cubs will not want more in return from the Orioles than just a straight-up trade for Matusz and Arrieta.
This is where things may get fuzzy. While the Orioles are loaded with veterans, it is no surprise this team does not have the deepest pool of talent in its minor league system.
The Cubs would most certainly ask for shortstop prospect Manny Machado. Machado could then make the move to second base for the Cubs to create a dynamic young duo with Starlin Castro.
Hard to see it happening, but a Machado-Castro combo would certainly give Cubs fans a big reason to come to Wrigley Field in the future.
With pitcher Dylan Bundy off the table, the Cubs may also ask for outfield prospect Xavier Avery or third base prospect Jonathan Schoop. Young left-hander Zach Britton may also be on the trading block. Righty Mike Wright could also be a nice consideration for the Cubs.
Then there is that third mystery team that may possibly alter Baltimore’s plans—for better or for worse.
It should be reiterated, the O's scout mentioned above also checked out the White Sox.
Could the Orioles be looking at Jake Peavy?
This may be a tough trade, especially when one considers the Sox are in second place in the AL Central.
And then, of course, there are always the New York Yankees. They are looking to boost their rotation as well, perhaps with Garza.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via ESPN's Andrew Marchand), the Yankees really like Garza and would like to add him to their rotation.
However, the Yankees would have to deal with Cubs GM Theo Epstein, who was very recently the GM of the Boston Red Sox. I will put my money on Epstein making a deal with the Orioles before making one with his former rival. Yet stranger things have happened in baseball history.
There are other teams, of course, in the running for a possible trade with the Cubs.
This brings us back to Soriano, who is the wild card in a potential three-way deal.
Per Levine (via Conn), “The Cubs would pay almost 90% of Soriano’s contract to get rid of him.”
For Dan Duquette and company, acquiring Soriano would be yet another shrewd move, much like it was when the Orioles acquired Steve Pearce from the Yankees.
Give a guy like Soriano a fresh start, and the pop in his bat may very well give Baltimore that added boost its offense needs to compete.
Yet again, I have to beg the question. While Soriano may come cheaply, do the Orioles need yet another strikeout-prone hitter in their lineup?
Not to mention Soriano is 36 years old—not exactly a spring chicken.
Perhaps a sign-and-trade option may be on the table for the Orioles in this situation.
The bottom line is the Orioles are in the mix for two outstanding pitchers that could help put this team on the map.
By responsibly acquiring Garza and Dempster, Baltimore will send a gigantic message to its AL East foes:
We’re not the O’s of decades past.
This baseball team is here to stay.
Not to be cocky, not to be crass;
But the O’s are here to kick some…