If Baltimore is going to stay in the race and play meaningful baseball in late August and September, reinforcements are likely needed. At 41-34, the Baltimore Orioles will enter the unofficial 2nd half of their schedule early next week. While they trail the AL East leading New York Yankees by five games entering play today, the Wild Card standings cement their status as an early season contender. Only six games separate nine teams for the top two Wild Card spots.
The team will certainly receive a boost from the expected return of Nick Markakis. A potential call-up of Zach Britton could provide help to a suspect rotation, but his Triple-A statistics have not been overly impressive since his return from the DL. As for other contributors such as Nolan Reimold and Nick Johnson, both are impossible to rely on because of injury issues.
While fans and some media members are obsessed with winning right now, it’s unrealistic and short-sighted to expect the Orioles franchise to mortgage the future — Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado — for rental players, regardless of the star caliber in return. Could packages headlined by Machado and Bundy, respectively, bring back, say, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke? Maybe. Would those two guarantee a postseason spot for Baltimore? Unlikely. Would one or both leave as free agents after the season. Undoubtedly. The key to this trade season and pennant race for Dan Duquette will be to get better, but not at too high of a price.
Here’s a list of 10 players — 5 bats, 5 arms — that can help Baltimore down the stretch in 2012, but not hamper their chances at true contention in 2014 and beyond.
Jeff Francouer, OF, Kansas City Royals: He’s not perfect, but Baltimore would receive a legitimate corner OF with a power bat. Reasonable contract (6.5 mil for ’13) makes him affordable. KC is motivated to move him in order to clear a spot for super prospect Wil Myers.
Carlos Quentin, OF, San Diego Padres: The idea of adding an injury prone LF to replace Nolan Reimold may seen counterproductive, but he’s healthy and mashing right now in San Diego. A Markakis-Jones-Wieters-Quentin middle of the order would be feared. Brings AL experience.
Jim Thome, DH, Philadelphia Phillies: MLB Trade Rumors reported earlier this week that the Phillies are looking to move Thome to an AL team. He wouldn’t cost much and would instantly give Baltimore a left-handed presence in the lineup. The leadership couldn’t hurt, either.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres: The potential NL All-Star would cost the most of any hitter on the list, but is controllable through 2015 and would represent a long-term solution at the hot corner for Baltimore. Excellent defense, .370+ OBP, and added power out of Petco Park would be expected.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays: Essentially, he would be everything the Orioles hoped Mark Reynolds could be. A versatile corner infielder with gobs of power. Toronto is alive in the AL East race, but could fall off due to pitching injuries.
Continue to pitching possibilities on next page…