MLB Trade Speculation: 8 Players the Baltimore Orioles Won't Move in a Fire Sale
Sitting around and talking trade speculation with friends and family is always fun, whether those talks center around legitimate rumors, big-move fantasies or just plain nonsense.
Of course, every team has players that they absolutely will not, under any circumstances, not even for Albert Pujols, move, because a player is projected to be that special. Those guys are dubbed "untouchables."
After years of drafting and developing, the Baltimore Orioles finally have plenty of those types of players and hope for them to all come together and bring the team back to contention soon, maybe even as early as this season (we can only hope).
Here's a look at some of those top guys that the Orioles would not be willing to trade, in no particular order of importance.
Zach Britton; Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
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After an injury at the beginning of the season to fellow lefty starter Brian Matusz, Zach Britton received a call-up to start the third game of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays and held the defending AL East champs to one run over six innings in completing a three-game sweep of them to start the year.
He made his 10th start on the year, and of his career, on May 24, an effort in which he went six innings and gave up three runs to the Kansas City Royals. His record on the year is 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA.
Over 65 innings, he has struck out 35 batters while walking only 21 and has held opponents to a .225 batting average against. Eight of his starts registered as quality outings.
It's fairly obvious that Britton has been the ace of the O's pitching staff so far this year, and one of the main reasons that they've been hovering around the .500 mark all year
With his heavy sinkerball, it's safe to say that the Orioles aren't going to entertain any offers for the talented, young left-hander anytime soon.
Adam Jones; Centerfielder
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This time last year, Orioles management probably would have entertained offers for their Gold Glove centerfielder (for the right price), but now I don't think there's any way that Adam Jones is going anywhere.
He appears to be making strides with his maturity and leadership level, which is helping his overall game. His awareness of the strike zone is getting increasingly better, and it's showing with the way his batting average has been climbing.
After the action on May 26, he's batting .293, good for second on the team. He is also tied for the team lead in homers (six) and leads the team in RBI (28).
His defensive play is at a much higher level than ever before seen from him, after seeming to take a step backwards in the field last season.
Expect Adam Jones and the Orioles to agree to a long-term deal either this season or next.
Matt Wieters; Catcher
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The prized former Georgia Tech star has yet to hit in the bigs like he did in college and the minors, but he has made huge strides in his defensive game.
So much so that he is arguably one of the best defensive catchers in the MLB now, if not the best.
Even now, he is second on the team in RBI with 26, and has a pretty solid batting average at .265, which ranks third on the team. Many O's fans call him out for his lack of power, but the reality is, with his tall and lanky frame, it's going to take him a while to find an appropriate swing for him at the major-league level. And he's still young, at only 25-years-old.
It's like his teammate Brian Roberts was quoted as saying a few years ago: "You have to learn to hit for average before you can learn to hit for power."
Baltimore has too much invested in Wieters to give up on him already, and his defensive and game-calling abilities are worth keeping him around, at least for a while.
Brian Matusz; Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
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Brian Matusz was the Orioles' first-overall pick in the 2008 draft, and for good reason. This young man is extremely talented.
He made his big-league debut in 2009, being called up from Double-A Bowie, completely skipping the Triple-A level.
So far through his young career, he has been a pretty solid pitcher for the O's, which is impressive considering his young age and limited time in the minors.
The 2010 season started out a little bumpy for Matusz here and there, but he righted himself, especially once Buck Showalter took over as manager in early August. Matusz went on an absolute tear at that point, going 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in August and 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in September to finish the year with a record of 10-12 and respectable 4.30 ERA.
Highly regarded as the future staff ace for Baltimore, he is due to make his 2011 season debut on June 1 in Seattle after injuring himself right before the start of the season. His addition to a surprisingly solid starting rotation in Baltimore so far will surely bring smiles to his teammates and the fans, along with plenty of quality starts.
Manny Machado; Shortstop
Manny Machado is also a No. 1 pick for the O's, his selection (third overall) coming in the 2010 draft.
Machado has been impressive so far in his short career in the minors, batting .333 with five long balls and 21 RBI in 111 at-bats over 25 games at Single-A Delmarva.
Drawing comparisons to New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez before his conversion to the hot corner, this young stud is projected as the shortstop of the future for Baltimore's baseball team.
Though Machado seems to appear as though he will move through the minors rather quickly for a player who was drafted out of high school, don't expect him in the big leagues until, at the absolute earliest, September of 2012. I would think that the 2013 season would be more appropriate, because I'm sure the last thing that Orioles management would want to do is rush him and hurt his development.
Being patient with this future star is sure to pay off.
When you have O's legend Cal Ripken, Jr. praising the way you play the game of baseball, you know you're good.
The Orioles wouldn't let any other team touch their kid out of Miami with a 50-foot pole.
Jake Arrieta; Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
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Along with fellow highly-touted starters Zach Britton and Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta is viewed by O's management and fans as the future of starting pitching in Baltimore.
With a win against the Kansas City Royals on May 25, Arrieta is enjoying a fine start to his 2011 season, going a cool 6-2 with a 4.57 ERA over 61 innings pitched so far.
Of his 11 starts on the season, eight of them have been registered as "quality starts," which means six innings or more of giving up three runs or less.
For the most part, his ERA on the year is elevated because of two bad outings in which he gave up eight earned runs to the Texas Rangers on April 9 over 3.1 innings, and against the Washington Nationals on May 20, when he went 3.2 and gave up six earned runs.
Other than those two poor starts, he hasn't allowed more than three runs in any start, but he failed to go six innings on April 29 at the Chicago White Sox to register a quality start, giving up three runs over five innings.
I've read comparisons of him to Mike Mussina. Now, wouldn't that be great?
Dan Klein; Right-Handed Pitcher
The former UCLA closer has already reached Double-A Bowie in his first professional baseball season, and it wouldn't surprise me if he received a September call-up to the bigs, assuming all continues to go well for this talented righty.
The only issue with Klein is: How do the O's use him? Do they stretch him out into a starter and see if he is just as effective over six or seven innings per game to maximize his usefulness, or do they keep in him a set-up/closer role and dub him the future of their bullpen?
Personally, I feel that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and besides, the O's rotation is already crowded enough with young, talented prospects.
It seems as though the team's bullpen could use some help each and every season anyway.
Nick Markakis; Rightfielder
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While I don't believe that Nick Markakis is untouchable anymore by any means, I do believe he'd be one of the last players the O's would want to deal if they were to hit rebuilding mode again.
Yes, Markakis has been underachieving the past year-plus, but he's still been a very solid, above-average major-league player, and the fact that the O's have so much money tied to him means they aren't going to give up on him easily.
Even with his power numbers dipping, he managed to hit 40-plus doubles last year for the fourth year in a row, becoming just the third player in MLB history to accomplish that feat.
And he seems to be shaking his slow start to the season hitting-wise, stringing together a nice little 11-game hit streak. His average has been steadily rising over the past couple of weeks.
Couple that with great defense in right that should have won him a Gold Glove by now, and you're probably going to see Markakis batting around the top of the order for the O's for years to come.