As the Baltimore Orioles enter the second half of the major league season, they are in the driver seat in the AL East. Yet the Orioles are not without weaknesses. Their most obvious weakness lies in their starting pitching. With no help apparently coming from our minor league system, it appears that the only way to get better starting pitching is to acquire it via a trade. On the surface this idea of trading for better starting pitching sounds good, but in reality, it may be a bit more difficult. Below I’ve provided a list of players assumed to be on the trading block along with a short blurb about each of these players. I’ve broken them down into two categories; the ‘Dreaming’ category which offers less realistic possibilities, but they are the best pitchers available at the deadline, and the ‘settle for’ category which provides a list of pitchers who essentially would fit somewhere in the middle to the back end of the rotation.
David Price- Every manager dreams of having an ace like David Price. A guy you can count on giving up somewhere between 0-3 runs while going at least 8 innings. I could go on about how Price would help the Orioles but I don’t want to get yours (or my) hopes up. It would take at least Bundy and a couple other of our top prospects…. A guy can dream, right?
Jon Lester- Lester’s contract is up at the end of the year, and extension talks with the Red Sox have not gone particularly well. If the Red Sox decide that they won’t be able to reach an agreement with Lester combined with the realization that the team as constructed cannot compete then Lester could be on the trading block. Again, the price would be steep (aces don’t come cheap), especially within the division, so we are left merely dreaming of Lester.
Cliff Lee- Let me start with the caveat that very few people in baseball have a clue what Phillies management is thinking. They have deluded themselves into actually thinking that they have a decent team. This mindset would have to change for them to start dealing their players. Cliff Lee could be a more attainable option (and for the very same reasons a more risky choice) because of his health concerns and his salary. He’s just returning to Phillies rotation after being out with an elbow strain. Along with health concerns there is the contract issue. Lee is owed 50 million over the next year and a half… So I guess I should move on now.
Chris Sale- 8-1 with an ERA of 2.08… yeah that’s pretty good. Next to David Price, he’s the best pitcher available (and therefore next to David Price will cost you the most). He’s very affordable for the next five years combined with the fact that he’s just 25 years old makes you wonder why the White Sox would even considering trading him. They clearly don’t need to trade him so they would need to get an offer that blows them away. Would the Orioles being willing to sell so much of their future for a chance to win this year?
Barolo Calon- Let’s start with this: Colon is 41 years old. Need I go on? He’s had a decent year with the New York Mets. Has gone 8-8 with an ERA of 3.99. His contract for this year is 9 million and 11 million next year. This makes him relatively affordable.
Jorge De La Rosa- The Orioles have not made it a secret that they are interested in De La Rosa. De La Rosa has ties with Dan Duquette going back to 2001 when Duquette was with the Red Sox. De La Rosa had an excellent year in 2013, his 2014 campaign has been a bit more inconsistent going 10-6 with an ERA of 4.56. De La Rosa is in the final year of his 11 million dollar deal. He would also provide another left-handed starter to a rotation that currently only has one left handed pitcher.
Ian Kennedy- We know his name from when he was Yankee. He was that guy giving up all those dongs. He’s had a lot more success in the national league than in the AL East (there’s a shocker), and this has caused his trade stock to go up. For teams desperate for pitching his 3.47 ERA this year with the Padres looks appealing. But buyers beware; Kennedy is a fly ball pitcher, currently pitching in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Fly ball pitchers usually don’t perform well in Camden Yards.
Kyle Kendrick- Unlike Kennedy, Kendrick is a ground ball pitcher. With the Phillies being clearly out of contention and Kendrick entering the final year of his deal the writing is on the wall. Kendrick’s numbers don’t blow you away (4.62 ERA), but Kendrick’s very good numbers against righties (righties are batting .241 against him this year) along with his past experiences as a reliever would provide the Orioles with the flexibility to use him as a starter or as a reliever.
The above list is by no means an exhaustive list; it is merely a list of players that I’ve heard either connected with Orioles are brought up multiple times in generic trade rumors. If the Orioles added any one of the ‘dreamers’ it would take them to the next level providing the O’s with a true ace, but the Orioles would have to sell off a lot of the future to do it. To acquire any of the pitchers that we would ‘settle for’ would cost much less, but would not be a great improvement over the pitchers we currently have.
Who would you like the Orioles to go out and get on this list? Is there another player not on my list that you think the Orioles should attempt to acquire?