The fallout of the Doug Fister trade has largely been a slew of media pundits from various sports networks blasting the Detroit Tigers for an apparently lopsided deal that brought Detroit a young lefty specialist, an average utility man, and a back-of-the-rotation pitching prospect. In return, the Washington Nationals received a very good pitcher with strong results in the American League. Not to necessarily throw my hat in the ring with these guys, but the return for Fister – a top 10 WAR pitcher in the American league over the last couple years – was indeed quite underwhelming. This brings forth the question of what kind of package the Orioles could put together for a similar pitcher.
Let us begin by building a package using the Washington National’s model in the Fister trade. Below is the Orioles’ (closest) version of the players the Nationals surrendered.
Krol and Matusz are both young left-handed relievers whose splits peg them as specialists, but whose talent suggests the potential for more value. While Krol is a bit younger, throws a bit harder and is much cheaper, Matusz is a former fourth overall pick who has had success in the past as a starter and was projected as an top-line starter not too long ago. While their value appears similar, I would give Matusz the slight edge as his ceiling is probably higher (note that Matusz is also due to make more money in 2014).
Lombardozzi and Schoop are both versatile infielders who offer different kinds of value. Lombardozzi is a much more polished player with 691 more major league at-bats than Schoop. However, Lombardozzi will likely never be more than a useful utility player while Schoop has the potential to be an above-average 3B, SS, or 2B. At this point, Schoop’s dearth of potential makes him a more valuable trade chip than Lombardozzi.
When comparing Ray and Rodriguez, two young lefties at similar points in their careers, the picture painted by reading scouting reports generally leaves us with the idea that Ray has the potential to be a 3-5 starter, while Rodriguez has the potential to be a future 2-3. Ray is described as having average stuff across the board, with good pitchability, while Rodriguez’s stuff is pegged as above-average and getting better. Signs point mostly to Rodriguez getting the favor here, although the Tigers clearly liked what they saw in Ray.
While trying not to overvalue the Orioles players as a fan (or a GM) will often do, evaluating the two veritable copies as far as players go leads one to the conclusion that the Orioles could probably have trumped the Nationals bid with a similar package. So now, just for fun, let’s consider whether this package would be enough to acquire an experienced starter who could be on the move this offseason, and would offer considerable appeal to the Orioles.
However, first it should be explained why the Orioles would trade the three aforementioned players. Matusz is the easiest to explain, as he offers appeal to other teams who still view him as a potential starter, and his projected salary does not look to match what the Orioles will want to pay him. Schoop is a prospect who really could solidify the right side of the Orioles infield one day, however, after a brief audition at the end of last season and through his mediocre play in the Arizona Fall League, it is clear that Schoop needs more minor-league seasoning and probably will not be truly ready to help next year’s contending Orioles team. Finally, Rodriguez is a very fine-looking prospect who the Orioles would not be quick to let go of. However, with the Orioles shoddy record in developing pitching, particularly when recalling the “real-deals” and “sure-things” from the past few years (cough Matusz cough Britton cough Arrieta) who simply haven’t panned out as expected, it would make sense to trade Rodriguez for an established pitcher. Odds are, even by way of optimistic projections, Rodriguez wouldn’t surpass Fister in production. Of course, Rodriguez would be a cost-controlled asset.
Without further ado…
Cincinnati Reds trade Homer Bailey
Orioles trade Brian Matusz, Jonathan Schoop, Eduardo Rodriguez
This is an interesting trade to consider, as it is no secret that the Reds are open to trading Bailey. They possibly could move Bailey in order to enable them to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo , and allow Aroldis Chapman to slide into the rotation. The Reds are trying to clear some payroll and maximize on Bailey’s value with him being a free agent in 2015, and with the Orioles having just cleared payroll of their own (shifting it to the penny-pinching A’s??), they could fit Bailey’s projected 9 million dollar contract into their budget. Perhaps they could even extend him to maximize their investment. Schoop could be an intriguing piece if the Reds are really looking to move Brandon Phillips and no team is going to balk at acquiring a top lefty pitching prospect. However, the Reds have no need for Matusz due to the presence of the more dominant Sean Marshall (plus taking his projected 3.5 million dollar salary would just be backtracking).
Would the reds accept?: Probably not.
So who could replace Matusz? We could dig deeper in the Orioles minor league system, but the Reds are a contending team who might be looking for more big-league-ready talent. Forget Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or even Mike Wright since the Orioles would not want to let go of more strong pitching prospects who could become major contributors to the 2015 Orioles. There is no clear-cut player who would make sense as the third Oriole in the deal but perhaps they could offer the Reds Henry Urrutia, Bud Norris, or Nolan Reimold. I don’t think the Orioles would part with Norris after giving up talent to get him from the Astros, I doubt the Reds would want Urrutia because of his shaky, though admittedly improving, defense in the DH-less National League. Reimold could be a fit if the Reds see the same potential in him that the Orioles have (his power is undeniable).
In conclusion, the Orioles should have tried to work out a deal for Doug Fister, perhaps they ‘were not at the right place at the right time’, however it’s Duquette’s job to be. Additionally, in order to make the Orioles a viable contender in 2014, they MUST shore up their rotation, and acquiring Homer Bailey would do just that. Thus, the Orioles should gauge the Reds interest in Schoop and Rodriguez, and see if they could somehow sweeten the deal. With the New York Yankees shelling out dough like it’s the 2000’s, the Boston Red Sox fresh off a World Series victory, the Tampa Bay Rays making smart investments per usual, and the Toronto Blue Jays desperate to make a splash, the Orioles need to get aggressive – or spend bigger, to float to the top of the division.