3 Bold Predictions for the Baltimore O's at the 2014 Trade Deadline
The Baltimore Orioles are currently the team to beat in the AL East. With a 53-44 record and sitting 3.5 games above the second-place team, the Orioles hope to be able to pull away with the lead before long.
This team is certainly talented enough to do just that, but it never hurts to look for a little help.
With the 2014 trade deadline rapidly approaching, trade rumors are slowly beginning to swirl as teams look for ways to improve their rosters heading into the final stretch of the season.
The Orioles will be no exception, as any competing team would look to swing a deal to improve itself for the season's final two months.
Possessing a lead in the AL East and a roster loaded with talent, the O's could become an even stronger team heading into August—and here's how.
The O's Will Trade for Steve Cishek
A report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports indicate that the Miami Marlins are beginning to shop closer Steve Cishek. Heyman writes that while the Marlins appear to be leaning toward being sellers for the next couple of weeks, they don't appear to be willing to sell everything (i.e. Giancarlo Stanton).
If Cishek is really on the market, though, he'll be the top reliever out there this summer.
The O's don't have a glaring need for a reliever, but they could certainly use one.
It'll be tough for the O's to add what they truly need: a front-line starting pitcher and a second baseman. There just simply aren't a ton of options available, and the O's don't have much flexibility down on the farm to work with.
Which is why acquiring Cishek makes perfect sense.
If a team can't strengthen a weakness, then strengthening a strength is the next best thing. Cishek is a proven reliever with a career 2.68 ERA in 231.2 innings, as well as a proven closer who has tallied 72 saves since the start of the 2012 season, all while pitching for a struggling Marlins team.
What's more, Cishek is hitting his prime at 28 years of age and isn't eligible to become a free agent until 2018. So the O's would be getting help for this season and future seasons.
Obviously, the O's shouldn't unload the farm for a one-inning reliever, no matter how good that reliever may be. But they probably wouldn't have to, as I feel as though a pair of second-tier prospects may be able to get it done.
The O's won't be looking to make earth-shattering news this trade season. But they'll be looking to improve, and Cishek is an improvement.
The O's Won't Acquire a Starting Pitcher
Naturally, a contending team with a rotation that is generally viewed as a weakness will be looking to acquire a starting pitcher.
The rumors will be there. They're already beginning, according to this tweet from Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. The team will make an honest effort to make a trade for a starting pitcher happen.
But it won't.
When the trade deadline comes and goes, the O's will not have made a trade to acquire a new starting pitcher.
There will be a number of reasons, ranging from the fact that the O's couldn't afford to part with the prospects that it would cost to acquire an ace such as Cliff Lee or David Price, to the team not feeling comfortable enough with a trade for a lesser pitcher such as A.J. Burnett or Jorge De La Rosa.
In the end, the team will decide to hang on to any prospects who were involved in trade talks for a starting pitcher and instead go with the six arms it currently has in its pitching rotation mix.
The O's will hope for leadership and stopper stuff from Chris Tillman and steady, reliable production from Bud Norris, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, all while giving prospect Kevin Gausman (pictured) the chance to prove that he can step up and be the team's young stud pitcher, like Sonny Gray and Michael Wacha did for the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, last season.
They'll also hope that righty Ubaldo Jimenez can put up the second-half dominance that he displayed for the Cleveland Indians last season.
No, the Birds won't be acquiring a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation this summer. And that may not be a bad thing at all.
The O's Will Swing a Deal with the Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are likely to be sellers this summer.
Now that they're in their third consecutive disappointing season, the team's front office seems to realize that it's time for a bit of a rebuild. That means good players will be available for teams to talk to the Phils about.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the O's were one of many teams to have representatives in attendance for Monday's game in Philadelphia, a game that left-hander Cliff Lee was starting. Lee's first start after coming off the disabled list didn't go too well, but the O's likely won't be swinging a deal for the lefty ace anyway.
While it's possible that the team is interested in Lee as well as starter A.J. Burnett, as was tweeted by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, neither of those two will be whom the O's acquire.
No, the O's will be looking to add either second baseman Chase Utley or closer Jonathan Papelbon, both of whom could be available.
As I mentioned in an earlier slide, it would be tough for the O's to pony up the necessary prospects to acquire an impact position player, especially one of Utley's caliber.
And Utley just signed a contract extension with the Phils last summer, showing his commitment to the only big league team he's ever known. Couple that with the fact that he has 10-and-5 rights, and Utley simply may not want to leave the Phillies organization.
Papelbon, on the other hand, would be much easier to acquire. He's a late-inning reliever in the middle of a great season (1.17 ERA, 23 saves) on a team that doesn't have much use for a shutdown closer. He wouldn't cost as much as Utley in terms of prospects and would be much more willing to leave Philadelphia, as he's previously expressed.
The O's seem like a logical landing spot for the righty, as he has AL East and postseason experience and could turn the O's bullpen from a very good one to a scary good one.
The only issue is Papelbon's outgoing and vocal character, though the O's haven't shied away from controversial players in recent seasons.
Two summers ago, the O's and Phils made a deal that sent designated hitter Jim Thome from Philadelphia to Baltimore. Let's see if the teams can get together on a summer trade once again.