Now that July has arrived, the Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching (7/31). Though the Orioles are living up to last year’s expectations, the roster does need some tweaking to push them to the forefront of the AL East. Baltimore could use help in the starting rotation, bullpen and bench depth, especially at the DH position.
Much has been made about the team’s lack of organizational depth in the farm system. But with most of the big league positions locked down for the immediate future, the Orioles could move some of their higher end prospects to acquire much needed pieces.
After Ryan Flaherty resurgence in the lineup, 2B seems to be at least adequate for a contending team. With the combination of Flaherty, Alexi Cassila and now Brian Roberts returning to the lineup, the Orioles can move their best fielding prospect, second baseman Jonahton Schoop, if the right deal came about. Add in Henry Urrutia, who has been mashing minor league pitching, and the oldest member of the Futures Team at 26. While other position players like, Nick Delmonico and L.J. Hoes, could be pieces thrown in to any trade to garner big league help.
This is the first four players the Orioles should keep on their watch list:
Bud Norris (RHP Houston Astros)
Norris is the Astros best pitcher and will a hot commodity the next couple weeks. Though he is not nearly as famous as Jake Peavy, his numbers are very comparable. Norris’ ERA is almost a full run less (3.35 to 4. 30 for Peavy), and also supporting a better WHIP (wins + hits / innings pitched) at 1.37. He has proved to be a viable No. 2 pitcher on most contending teams.
Now several teams, possibly even in the division (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays) may be in on the bidding, the Orioles do have enough to acquire his services. A package centered around Schoop, could entice the Astros, especially with his ability to play shortstop and third base if need be.
Projected Trade: Jonathon Schoop (2B/SS), Henry Urrutia (OF), Steve Johnson (RHP), Braden Kline (RHP) to the Astros for Norris.
Michael Young (IF/DH Philadelphia Phillies)
The one thing consistent about the Phillies in 2013: inconsistency. Though they are hanging on in the division, they do not have the look of a title contender. A massive fire-sale could be imminent for an aging roster, looking to rebuild/retool for the future.
Young continues to be productive at 36, hitting a respectable .287 with a .753 slugging percentage. His versatility could be a welcome addition to the Orioles, who lack depth at 1B, 3B and DH. For a team that may dismantle their roster in the coming weeks, a player in the last year of his contract like Young could be the first to go.
Projected Trade: Troy Patton (LHP), L.J. Hoes (OF) to the Phillies for Young.
Josh Willingham (OF/1B Minnesota Twins)
The Twins have been moving parts and getting younger for the last couple seasons; Willingham does not fit into their long term plan. Though he is having a down year, batting only .224, he still has a lot of power that could fit nicely behind the likes of Adam Jones and Chris Davis.
He may be best suited to a DH role, but can also fill in at 1B and the OF, providing much needed depth on a lackluster bench. His addition could seal up a lineup that sorely needs more production towards the bottom. The Orioles could also look to add a bullpen arm in any deal with the Twins, if they are willing to part with the right prospects.
Possible Trade: Adrian Marin (SS), Mike Wright (RHP), Christian Walker (1B) to the Twins for Willingham and Anthony Swarzak (RHP).
Bobby Parnell (RHP New York Mets)
If the Orioles decide to tweak their bullpen, which has struggled at points this season, Parnell may be the ideal fit. He has been consistently good since 2010, where he has an ERA under 3 for three out of the past four seasons (2.83 in 2013).
The 28 year old will be Arbitration Eligible this offseason, making it likely the Mets would want to move him. He would add a strong arm to a tired bullpen, while adding the ability to close out games, if Jim Johnson continues his problems in the 9th inning. The most fascinating stat for Parnell: he has yet to give up a HR this year.
Projected Trade: Nick Delmonico (3B/1B), L.J. Hoes (OF), Zachary Davies (RHP) to the Mets for Parnell.
*All Stats Courtesy of BaseballReference.com*
*All Photos Courtesy of ESPN.com.*