The Baltimore Orioles are a team that is trapped between whether they can make a playoff push, or whether they should work to acquire young, talented assets.
But, what if they come out and go 3-7 on the upcoming homestand. Then what should they do?
They should follow the lead of one of the teams from Chicago that just made a significant trade. They should trade with their biggest rival outside of their division.
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox have made deals in the past, but the trade of Jose Quintana to the Cubs for OF Eloy Jiménez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose and INF Bryant Flete on Thursday is a big one.
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The trade netted the Cubs a starter who can give them a chance at turning a mediocre season around. Just in time for the Orioles to face them, may I add, as the Cubs will be in Baltimore for a weekend series starting tomorrow. However, Quintana has struggled this year.
The White Sox got the fifth-best prospect in the game in Jimenez and a top 100 pitcher in Cease. It gives an already deep farm system even more top prospect.
This brings us to the trade portion for the Orioles. The Orioles biggest needs are obvious, pitching.
The Nationals, however, don’t need starting pitching. They have it in the rotation with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross. Two of these are complete aces, and Gonzalez has pitched like one this year.
The Nationals are also in win-now mode. Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Matt Wieters are all veterans. Bryce Harper is on the next to last year of his contract, and no one knows what he may do when his contract is up.
If you look at the Nationals, they have a glaring hole. Their bullpen. The bullpen ERA of 5.20 is last in baseball. In 34 save opportunities, they only have 20 saves. The Orioles, on the other hand, have 22 saves in 31 save opportunities.
The average against their bullpen is .276, worst in baseball.
Washington has used seven players to try to close out games. Matt Albers has two saves in five opportunities and has a 1.93 ERA. Enny Romero has two saves in four opportunities with a 3.63 ERA. Oliver Perez has one save in one opportunity with a 4.50 ERA. Loda Glover has a 5.12 ERA and eight saves in ten opportunities.
Jacob Turner has three save opportunities, zero saves, and a 5.20 ERA. Blake Treinen has three saves in five opportunities and a 5.73 ERA. Last but not least is Shawn Kelly, who has an ugly 7.00 ERA with four saves in six opportunities.
It isn’t pretty, to say the least.
Insert Zach Britton, or Brad Brach, or even Mychal Givens. It is likely any of these three, and even Darren O’Day, if the Orioles could somehow get the Nationals to take him, would close for this team. And, all four would improve their bullpen.
For Britton, you can ask for a lot. Think top ten prospect Victor Robles, an outfielder and Erick Fedde, a top pitching prospect. If you can get into a bidding war for Brach as well, you might be able to get this type of return. The other positive is none of these guys would be rentals for just the rest of 2017, and all are under contract through 2018 as well.
The Nationals have several other outfield prospects in their minor leagues, although their pitching prospects are not what they once were after some trades last year.
I’m not sure they would part with Ross, but he would be a winning pitcher with major league experience.
As the Orioles face a homestand that will help dictate whether they should be buyers or sellers, they shouldn’t let rivalries get in the way of getting better, if they end up as sellers.
The Yankees and Red Sox are both looking for bullpen help too, and Tampa Bay, if they are going to make a run, is going to need bullpen help as well.
The Baltimore Orioles need to get better pitching. Be it prospects, rotation ready pieces, whatever, and it has to happen.
What good is the back end of the bullpen if the starters can’t get a lead to them. They aren’t.
The next two weeks could help determine the future for several of the Baltimore Orioles’ key bullpen pieces, should they be willing to part with them.