While talking with Terry Ford on 105.7 The Fan last night, he asked me whether I thought the Orioles would trade Mark Trumbo for pitching help.
It’s a topic that has some legs, apparently.
Fans have been knocking around the idea on talk radio and on-line forums for a little while. Last week, my old Sun colleague Peter Schmuck wrote a column saying it should be explored since the Orioles have limited trade chips, surplus power and desperately need pitching. And Trumbo is a free-agent at season’s end.
In concept, it makes sense, I suppose.
In reality, there is no shot it happens. None.
But it’s come up a couple of times. So I’ll address it today – and then you can move away from the ledge.
Teams that are selling off starting pitching are giving up. And, therefore, they don’t want a veteran star in his last few months before free agency; they want a bevy of controllable prospects instead.
Teams that are in contention aren’t trading starting pitching, because no one has that kind of surplus. Or no team that wants to make the playoffs thinks it has that kind of surplus.
Sure, I suppose a three-team deal could happen, but those are rare because it’s difficult enough to get two clubs to agree on swapping pieces; three is a lost art. Especially at the non-waiver trade deadline, when clubs are working against the clock and each other to finalize deals.
Then there’s the other important part of this. Besides Manny Machado, Trumbo is currently the Orioles’ most crucial offensive piece. He’s leading the majors in homers. He leads the Orioles in RBIs with 68, 10 more than Chris Davis, who is second. Trumbo is fourth in on-base percentage behind Machado, Davis and leader Hyun Soo Kim, who is dealing with a hamstring strain and his start of the second half could be in jeopardy. That’s even more reason to keep Trumbo, who is seemingly in the middle of every big rally for the Orioles.
Yes, Trumbo’s great season means he’ll have plenty of suitors on the open market, and that means it will take some serious cash to retain him. But, even if he leaves via free agency, the Orioles will get a compensation pick for him.
The bottom line is that Trumbo is not going to bring back the kind of pitcher the Orioles really need to get a stronger foothold atop the AL East standings. The only current position players that would yield that return are Machado and Jonathan Schoop, who are young and still have a couple more years of team control. And they aren’t going to be dealt.
The most likely scenario is that the Orioles trade a couple minor leaguers – guys with some big-league potential but not the club’s few legitimate prospects – for a mid-to-back-end rotation piece such as Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson, for instance.
As for trading Trumbo, it’s one of those situations where the concept might have merit, but the reality doesn’t. So, really, it’s idle talk before actual trade discussions heat up.