Baltimore Orioles Sell Mode: 9 Vets Who Could Be on the Block
The Orioles were sitting right around .500 as recently as a couple weeks ago, but it's incredible how quickly things can change. After getting swept in embarrassing fashion by the Rangers on Wednesday, they are now 12 games under .500, 14.5 games out of first in the AL East and 14 games from the Wild Card leading Red Sox.
The team is once again a seller at the deadline and they have some pieces that could be valuable to better clubs as they push for the postseason. Unfortunately for the O's, their one year reclamation projects haven't developed into trade chips and the players that are under control beyond this year are the sought after players.
Here are the nine veterans who the Orioles will dangle on the market this month.
Michael Gonzalez, LHP
Gonzalez has been shaky in Baltimore ever since he was first signed in 2010. He spent a lot of the year on the DL, but looked strong to finish the season.
2011 hasn't been a recovery year. Gonzalez's inconsistency has severely hurt the Orioles chances of trading him. His ERA looks rougher than it really is at 5.76 because it is dragged up by his poor performance at the beginning of the year. As of late, Gonzalez has actually been very strong, pitching to a 1.59 ERA over his last 10 games before facing Texas.
The good about Gonzalez comes in his ability as a specialist. Despite poor numbers against right handed hitters, Mike Gonzalez has been great against lefties, who are hitting just .228 against him. That is where the Orioles could find a suitor for Gonzalez.
The bad about Gonzalez is the aforementioned inconsistency and his big contract. Gonzalez is set to make $6 million this year because he was expected to close, but has shown that he can't perform in that role. $6 million is too much for a lefty specialist, so the O's would need to find a team that really has a need and has some money to spend to move him.
Kevin Gregg, RHP
Kevin Gregg has quietly put together a really good year as the closer for the Orioles. His outings make fans really nervous because he seems to get on the brink of a blown save before shutting the door, but he gets the job done. Captain Chaos (Jim Palmer's nickname for Gregg) has the tenacity and stuff to shut down opposing lineups.
Gregg's WHIP is high at 1.47. That will scare people away, but Gregg has the makeup that is required to blow away a batter at just the right time.
The buyers for Gregg would have to really commit if they want him. He is in the first of a two year deal that could be three with a team option. The deal is only for $4.2 million this year though, so the taker would get lumped with $5.8 million on the books in 2012. That said, Gregg could be great for the right team. Philadelphia is a perfect fit for the righty, but they may be unwilling to pull the trigger if Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes hold down the fort in the back end of games.
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP
I wrote last week about the potential suitors for Jeremy Guthrie. I'll reiterate the key points.
Guthrie is a workhorse that manages 200 innings consistently. He has great ability, but is often given horrible run support and is forced to take on too much. Guthrie is under contract for this year and will enter his final year of arbitration this offseason. A team that can slot Guthrie third or lower in the rotation would be acquiring an incredible asset.
Once again, the Phillies come to mind as a team that could have a need there. Colorado and Cincinnati could also be in the mix. Texas has also shown interest in the past, but the need isn't very great and he would really only provide depth.
Koji Uehara, RHP
Koji Uehara is one of the most underrated relievers in the game. He has a WHIP of just .79 and a 2.13 ERA in 38 innings this year. He has struck out 50 batters to just eight walks.
Uehara can close or set up for any team that wants him. He is incredibly consistent and very successful. The one knock on Uehara is that he is injury prone. The Orioles have been very cautious in their use of Uehara. He is rarely used two days in a row and has only finished two innings twice this year. That said, he is one of the best relievers available and could be a hot commodity.
J.J. Hardy, SS
J.J. Hardy has bounced back in a big way after two bad seasons. Hardy enjoyed great years for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 and 2008, but tanked in 2009. He was traded that offseason to the Minnesota Twins, but got hurt and struggled there too.
Hardy came to Baltimore in a trade and got hurt early on, but came back and has been one of the best hitters on the team. J.J. has shown the ability to hit anywhere in the lineup and has returned to being one of the best power hitting shortstops in the majors. He is only one home run behind Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta for the AL home run lead at the position with 13 and would have the third best OPS in the majors if he had more at bats. Hardy is also an above-average fielder at the position.
Hardy is set to enter free agency after the season, but the Orioles don't want to lose him. If he isn't signed by the Orioles by the end of the month, expect the Rays and Reds to be calling. The Brewers may even look into reacquiring their former player,
Derrek Lee, 1B
Derrek Lee has been a huge disappointment for the Orioles. He hasn't driven in runs and his power is sporadic at best. His average is a meager .233.
It will take some hard selling to find a taker for Lee, who could make up to $10 million this year. His defense could be an upgrade for most teams, but the offense is so bad that there won't be many buyers.
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Mark Reynolds is a very intriguing trade candidate for the Orioles. He is under control until 2013, so he is probably not going anywhere, but the Orioles will definitely listen to offers.
Reynolds was really bad for the first two months of the season, fighting upwards to reach the Mendoza line and rarely showing the incredible power that has kept him in the majors, but June was an incredible turnaround. Reynolds' power outburst over the weekend has propelled him to be one of the best offensive players of the month. In fact, Reynolds has the highest OPS in the majors in the last 30 days at 1.219.
Reynolds has now hit 20 home runs and is batting .230, but has an OBP at a respectable .350. At this pace, Reynolds could hit 40 home runs this year. Any contender looking for a hitter should consider Reynolds. He is incredibly powerful and has actually done a great job of cutting down strikeouts. He is on pace to strikeout well less than 200 times, which would be a first for him in a full season.
Reynolds is at his highest trade value right now. The Orioles could ask for a lot, but would lose a huge part of their offense. At the same time, his major league worst defense could mean addition by subtraction.
Luke Scott, OF/DH
I won't write much about Luke Scott because there isn't much to say.
Scott's torn labrum is going to turn any suitor away. He is on the DL now and his upcoming MRA results could take him off the market completely.
It would take a miracle for the Orioles to move Scott now and get anything worthwhile in return.
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Guerrero has unfortunately been a huge disappointment for the Orioles.
The aging veteran is useless in the field and has lost most of his power and speed. His average is dipping and he may have to cede the cleanup spot soon to more talented players.
The Orioles' treatment of Guerrero in interleague play shows the NL is pretty much not an option for Guerrero at this point. Some teams had reported interest, but they will never see him play, so they won't blindly pray for fielding ability when he probably can't.
It's sad to see a star like Guerrero lose his ability, but he isn't the same player anymore. Vlad may be going to the Hall of Fame, but I can't see him going to another team in July. The Yankees are probably the only team with the money and need to take Guerrero, but it is rather unlikely to happen.