This offseason, the Baltimore Orioles were looking to add a big bat to complement the likes of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters in the middle of their lineup.
With the start of spring training here, the team has yet to make any major moves this offseason, partly because the free-agent market was so thin and partly because the team lacked the necessary trade chips to get a big deal done.
The Orioles have very few players worth parting with for an impact player, and most of those players— Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Manny Machado, to name a few—are guys the team would much rather keep than flip.
One player who could help make a key deal happen is left-hander Brian Matusz.
After a strong rookie campaign in 2010 in which he finished with a 4.30 ERA, Matusz has struggled mightily as a starter since then, but found a home as a reliever for the second half of the 2012 season.
For that reason, in addition to the fact that Matusz is a former first-round pick, fourth overall, the Orioles may be able to build a package centered around Matusz for someone of value, marketing Matusz as a starter with potential and, if nothing else, a solid relief option.
Of course, Matusz alone wouldn't get a big deal done. The team would have to throw in someone like Jonathan Schoop as well as one or two other lower-level prospects. But selling high on Matusz now is a smart idea, because Matusz as a pitcher can't be trusted to develop into what the team saw in him when they drafted him.
Over 368 MLB innings, Matusz owns a 5.36 ERA. I think it's fair to say he's been given a good chance to develop, but he's only gone backwards outside of his solid second half as a reliever.
The O's would be smart to capitalize on that solid second half should any teams come calling and offering the Birds something of value in return. Matusz is no longer an untouchable. In fact, with the inconsistency that is Matusz's career so far, his value may never be this high again.
As spring training progresses, some teams will see injuries to key pitchers and/or realize they're lacking a lefty for their 'pen or a No. 5 starter. With Matusz currently an appealing option, said team(s) may decide to give the O's a call.
This isn't to say the Orioles should just give Matusz away the first chance they get. What's likely is that they'll hang on to their young lefty, as the team still has confidence in Matusz's abilities.
But if there was ever a time to try to make the right deal happen with Matusz being involved, now is the time.