Baltimore Orioles: 5 Players to Target Via Trade
The winter meetings are coming up, and while it is a time when some free agents find new homes, it is mainly an opportunity for GMs to talk with each other about trades.
At last year's meetings, many big trades occurred, with Adrian Gonzalez, Shaun Marcum and Jason Bartlett switching teams. Andy MacPhail managed to bring home an entirely new left side of the Orioles infield with deals for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy.
This year's market could be just as fruitful for the Orioles. Many names have surfaced as being available, including what seems to be most of the pitching staff that Theo Epstein inherited on the Cubs. The Orioles' main targets will likely be starting pitching and third base, but Dan Duquette may also be looking for an extra outfielder as well.
Here are five players the Orioles should look to trade for at this year's winter meetings in Dallas.
Mike Aviles, 3B, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox picked up Mike Aviles at the July trade deadline this past season and he gave them some great spark off the bench as a solid utility player. Now, Aviles is a first-time, arbitration-eligible player, so his impeding salary increase could prompt Ben Cherington to move him.
The Orioles have a player similar to Aviles in Robert Andino, but unlike Andino, Aviles has the hitting ability to be an everyday starter. Aviles' career OPS of .737 is more than .100 higher than Andino's unimpressive .634.
Even though Aviles is projected as a bench player for the Red Sox, he will likely not be cheap. The Orioles would have to consider how much of an upgrade he is over Chris Davis in considering Aviles, but due to the uninspiring free-agent market at third, Aviles may be the best value player at the hot corner.
Joe Saunders, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Similar to Aviles, Joe Saunders is preparing to cash in through arbitration this year, but he is looking to command a much higher salary. Saunders' performance in 2011 could bump his salary up to around $8 million, so the Diamondbacks might be looking to non-tender or deal the 30-year-old left-hander.
Saunders, a Virginia native, is coming off of his second consecutive 200-plus inning season in which he posted a terrific 3.69 ERA. The Orioles had just Jeremy Guthrie reach the 200-inning plateau in 2011 and need someone else to lessen the intense workload on the bullpen.
The Orioles may want to keep their ears to the ground regarding whether or not Arizona will non-tender Saunders. If he is tendered, the Orioles should get Kevin Towers back on the phone for another salary dump that could strengthen the Orioles' pitching staff.
Mike Pelfrey, SP, New York Mets
Mike Pelfrey has been a pitcher who has frustrated Mets fans for the past few seasons with his inability to stay consistent. He has been one of the few pitchers to stay healthy enough to pitch full seasons in the last four years, but the results have been up and down.
After a rough couple of seasons to start his career, Pelfrey logged over 200 innings in 2008 and posted a solid 3.72 ERA. He followed with less innings and an ERA above 5.00. He bounced back again in 2010 with another 200-plus-inning season and an ERA of 3.66, but once again saw his innings decline the following season and his ERA balloon up to 4.74.
While he is a fringe non-tender candidate, it seems that the Mets will likely keep him for his ability to maintain a heavy workload. That makes him a perfect candidate for a trade, and the Orioles could use a younger player like Tommy Hunter to try to pry him away.
Jason Hammel, SP, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies liked what they got from Jason Hammel in 2009 and 2010, so they locked him up on a two-year deal to avoid arbitration in 2011. That deal might mean the end for Hammel and the Rockies though, as he will make $4.75 million in 2012, but is likely not going to be a part of the rotation.
Assuming Jorge de la Rosa recovers from his injury, he, along with Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio, will likely be joined by former Cleveland Indians Alex White and Drew Pomeranz in the rotation. The upcoming acquisition of Tyler Chatwood from the Angels is also a hit against Hammel's chances.
Hammel is not quite as good as Saunders or Pelfrey, but his availability and youth could be factors that bring him to Baltimore. It would likely take very little to get him, so the Orioles should give him a look to see if he can build on his previous success.
Randy Wells, SP, Chicago Cubs
Randy Wells will likely not be that costly for the Cubs in 2012, but it seems that Theo Epstein is ready for a roster overhaul as he has let it be known that both Randy Wells and Matt Garza are available this offseason.
Wells has been up and down in the past and his injury-riddled 2011 campaign with a nearly 5.00 ERA may scare teams off, but the Orioles should look into getting the 29-year-old starter.
Wells finished sixth in 2009 for NL Rookie of the Year, but may have deserved better, since he finished with a 12-10 record with just a 3.05 ERA. His first full year was only OK, but he did manage to pitch nearly 200 innings.
The Orioles could use a player like this if the price is right. At this point, the Orioles just need someone who can get through the sixth inning, and Wells could be that guy.