Breaking Down 3 of the Most Likely Trade Partners for the Baltimore O's
It's about that time of year again.
In roughly one week, the Baltimore Orioles will have reached the mathematical halfway point in their schedule. Currently tied for second place in the AL East, the Orioles have shown that they're a strong, competitive team this season.
They've also had trouble stringing a long winning streak together and really making that push to the top of their division standings.
The O's front office, namely Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, will have to decide whether there are any smart trades the team can make to improve their roster in attempt to push the team to the next level.
Options are out there. Trades are always available, especially at this time of year. It's up to Duquette and Co. to pull the right strings for the O's.
Let's take a look at some potential trade partners for the Orioles this summer.
I want to get the most obvious team out of the way.
There have been rumors regarding the Orioles' interest in Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs are shopping their ace because the team is in a rebuilding mode and Samardzija is due to hit free agency after the 2015 season.
There are two problems, though: The Cubs would likely want a boatload of prospects in return, and though Samardzija is a very talented pitcher, he isn't really the "true ace" that the O's desperately need.
It's true that the O's would benefit from adding Samardzija to their rotation. But is a year and a half of Samardzija worth the cost of losing two of the team's top pitching prospects and then some?
Those are the tough decisions that Duquette will be forced to make this summer.
Add to that that top prospect Kevin Gausman has had great success over his last three starts for the team, and it may just be wiser for the O's to sit back and see what the youngster can do. In the end, Gausman may be the pitcher the team needs, making shopping for one pointless.
The Philadelphia Phillies have struggled for much of the season, but are hot right now, having gone 5-2 last week to propel themselves back into the conversation in their division, at least for the time being.
The Phillies have some talent on their roster. The problem is that most of it is aging and overpaid.
If the team starts to tank over the next few weeks, it's possible that they could decide to sell off some of those expensive and aging pieces in order to acquire young talent and/or free up payroll space.
The two pieces the Phillies have that would make the most sense for the O's are starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and second baseman Chase Utley (pictured).
Burnett is a smart pitcher with good stuff, but he can be inconsistent at times. The O's tried to lure the righty to Baltimore last offseason, but Burnett apparently had no interest in pitching for an AL team. Burnett could provide a cheaper option prospect-wise for the O's to solidify their rotation, especially if they take on the entirety of his remaining contract. But again, much of their interest in starting pitchers this summer will be tied to how Gausman performs for the next few weeks.
Utley would be a more difficult acquisition. After signing an extension to stay in Philadelphia last summer, it would be hard to imagine Utley waving his 10-and-5 rights just a year later (for those unaware, 10-and-5 rights is the right for a player to veto any trade once he has spent 10 years in the bigs and five for the same team). And given the level at which Utley plays the game, the O's will likely need to offer a good prospect or two AND take on the second baseman's contract.
Still though, wouldn't it be great to see Utley's bat in the O's lineup?
San Diego Padres
Now for a much more subtle and complementary trade proposal.
The O's have had trouble getting offensive production from the second base and left field positions. Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce have provided plenty of offensive attack, but they often rotate between the DH slot and left field. And they're both right-handed batters.
Over the winter, the O's acquired outfielder David Lough from the Kansas City Royals hoping that he would be a good replacement for Nate McLouth. So far, Lough has been tremendous in the field and on the bases, but has struggled at the plate. The team doesn't appear ready to simply give up on Lough, but they do need to find a way to get more left-handed offensive production out of the left field spot.
That's where the San Diego Padres and outfielder Seth Smith come into play. Smith is having a very good year for the Padres, as he's hitting .286 with eight homers, 23 RBI and an incredible .396 OBP. And while it would be surprising to see his OBP remain that high all season, he does have a good career mark of .347, and everyone knows the O's could use some on-base help.
Smith likely wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to acquire like some of the other players mentioned on this list. And he could potentially provide a huge boost to the O's lineup. Of all the possibilities on this list, Smith is the one that gets me, as a fan, the most excited.
Duquette would be wise to take a close look at this scenario.