2009 Trade Deadline Preview: Baltimore Orioles

 

Buyers or sellers?

Let's not kid ourselves here the answer is sellers. While they Orioles have remained somewhat stagnant so far it wouldn't be all too surprising if that changed real soon. The Orioles are clearly a team in transition, and given the bevy of young talent they have it's not unrealistic for them to be competing in the AL East somewhere in the near future. But going into July 31 they'll look to move some of their older parts in order to further solidify their promising future.

Short-term need

The Orioles don't necessarily have any glaring short-term needs. I know they probably would like to move a few of their larger contracts, but generally speaking that's about it. As we said they have a ton of young talent, which for the most part isn't being blocked by old, aging players. They do have some expendable parts, which I would expect them to move. When and if that happens, I think they'll just look to continue to acquire more young players.

Long-term need

Develop, Develop, Develop! The Orioles have a tremendous foundation to build around with Adam JonesNick Markakis, and Matt Wieters. Provided they continue to infuse young talent with their core superstars, they've got a shot to be really good in the next few years. They also need to start to develop and acquire quality-starting pitching. They've got a plethora of young pitchers in the minors, but right now they're probably still a year or two away. Look for the Orioles long-term to take the same approach as the Rays did last year, which is continue to acquire young talent at nausea, and hope that it all comes together in and around the same time.

Big leaguers on the market

Four names come to mind here. First there's Aubrey Huff, he's the prototypical trade piece for a team like the Orioles. He's 32, and in the last year of his $8 million contract. Odds are he's not going to resign with the Orioles so it makes sense for them to move him and get something in return. He's only hitting .259 on the year, but his 11 homers lets you know he still has some power left. In a weak trade market Huff could still have some value. Second is Luke Scott, he's without a doubt the Orioles most valuable piece. He's batting .305 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. He also has a staggering .976 OPS, which is good for forth in the American League. Adding to Scotts value is that he's only set to make $2.4 million this year. If the Orioles elected to move Scott they could use his small contract to command an additional return. Ultimately, the jury is out on whether Scott stays or goes, but my guess would be he goes. Third we have George Sherrill. All reports were that the Orioles have been shopping Sherrill for some time now. A few weeks back it was rumored he may be headed off to the Marlins, but the deal fell through when the Orioles were demanding too much in return. Typically, deals like that get revisited closer to the deadline, and often times the price drops considerably. I would expect that to be the case with Sherrill, I think the Orioles will defiantly move him. There are too many teams looking for left-handed relievers. Sherrill is only 32-years-old (which in left-handed reliever years isn't that old), and he already has 20 saves on the year. He's set to make $2.75 million this year, which is more than reasonable based on his performance. The Orioles have no use for him long-term, and odd's are he'll be gone before they are a serious contender, so it makes sense to move him now while his value is high. Finally we have Danys Baez, the Orioles would love to move Baez given the chance. He's 31, and scheduled to make $7.1 million this year. He's not going to re-up with the O's, so if they could move his hefty contract and get anything in return odds are they will.

Minor league strength

Overall the minor league system for the Orioles is pretty solid. They developed Matt Wieters, who is arguably the best prospect in baseball, and they have some pretty good young pitchers with Brian Matusz,Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta. They've been fortunate to have some high draft selections, but to their credit they've transformed them into some pretty good players.

Take on short-term money to win?

Zero. However, given their promising young roster the Orioles do have the potential to contend in the near future. They need to continue to develop their young pitching prospects, and if they sprinkle in a few solid veterans they might be good pretty soon. Unfortunately, they always will have the Yankees and Red Sox to contend with, but the Rays of 2008 should be a promising example to the Orioles that patience can pay off. Their not nearly as talented as the 08' Rays, yet, but steadily as they infuse more of their young players into the rotation it's not far fetched to see them contending for an AL East title in the next 3-5 years.

 

For more coverage of the Orioles, check out Camden Chat.

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