As the All-Star festivities commence, the trade market will heat up. Teams are set to buy, in order to push them to the top of their respective division. For the first time since 1997, the Orioles are definitely considered contenders around the entire league. As so, the stakes are higher to improve a roster that currently sits in third place in the AL East and 1.5 games out of the Wild Card race.
The best franchises over the past couple seasons were able to make the smart moves at the deadline, to propel them into the playoffs. The Orioles do not have much to offer, as far as prospects go, but can package enough together to get some of the better trade options on the market. Now the Orioles will not risk their future, by trading away all of them, but a deal centered around one or two of their higher prospects is definitely a possibility for a team that is ready to win now.
This is the latest installment of Orioles trade options:
Jason Kubel (OF/1B/DH Arizona Diamondbacks)
The Diamondbacks are in contention in the NL West, so any deal will have to improve their chances to make the playoffs. They have a surplus of OFs, especially since the return of up-and-comer, Adam Eaton. Finding at bats for Eaton, Kubel, A.J. Pollock, Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado and Eric Chavez, has been a challenge. Moving one would make sense to garner more offensive consistency.
Though Kubel is only batting .242 (with 5 HR and 27 RBI), he still has a respectable .321 OBP and .363 Slugging Percentage. He is probably suffering from irregular playing time, with only 190 at bats (on pace for under 400 for the season). The Orioles could utilize his versatility in several roles, like added rest for Chris Davis and the OF, but would be mostly played at the DH.
With only one left-handed reliever on the roster, Arizona will look to add bullpen depth in any trade before the deadline.
Projected Trade: Troy Patton (LHP) to the Diamondbacks for Kubel.
Luke Gregerson (RHP San Diego Padres)
The Padres officially announced that they will be sellers in the coming weeks, as they are behind in the tightest division race in baseball. They do have a sense of ‘being close’, so any move will need to benefit their chances in 2014.
Gregerson is having the best season out of anyone in San Diego’s bullpen, sporting a 2.93 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He also filled in as a closer for a couple weeks stint, while Huston Street was on the 15-Day DL. He would benefit the Orioles as an added setup man and spot closer; giving the overworked combination of O’Day, Matusz and Johnson extra rest during the playoff run.
Projected Trade: Zach Britton (RHP) to the Padres for Gregerson.
Chris Carter (OF/1B/DH Houston Astros)
Like Kubel, Carter is valuable because of the versatility he would add to the Orioles roster. The Astros are obviously in sell mode, with one of the worst records in baseball. Carter is only 26 and having his best MLB season to date, after bouncing around the past couple of years. Though he does not provide much in terms of average (batting .229), he does get on base, evident by his .326 OBP.
Carter has also become a power threat, with 18 HR’s in the middle of a bad lineup. Handling duties at 1B, will give the Orioles a chance to rest Chris Davis more, without taking him out of the lineup and playing him in the DH spot. He can also fill in the corner outfield positions as well, but is probably best suited to be an everyday DH.
Projected Trade: Jason Esposito (3B) and Oliver Drake (RHP) to the Astros for Carter.
Matt Garza (RHP Chicago Cubs)
Now this trade was visited a couple weeks ago, but the Orioles decided the price was too high and went with Scott Feldman instead. But if Garza continues on his current pace, he has the look of a front of the rotation starter for a contending team. He has experience in the AL East and was successful in his time with the Rays.
He is a power arm and can be a stopper every fifth day. If the Orioles decide they still need to upgrade the rotation, Garza may be their best option. It will cost their No. 3 organizational prospect, Jonathan Schoop, and other pieces, but it is worth it in the end. The Orioles already have three 2B on the roster and with Flaherty, a player capable of holding the position for a couple seasons.
If the team is really ready to win, then making the move should be a simple decision. Baltimore could move Feldman to the bullpen or try to trade struggling, Jason Hammel, to clear a spot in the rotation.
Projected Trade: Jonathan Schoop (2B), Mike Wright (RHP) and Henry Urrutia (OF) to the Cubs for Garza.
*All Photos and stats courtesy of ESPN.com.*