O's trade Yovani Gallardo for Seth Smith; Here's a look at what this trade means - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

O’s trade Yovani Gallardo for Seth Smith; Here’s a look at what this trade means

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles were looking for an outfielder with on-base potential, and decided to dip into their starting pitching reserve to find one.

The club announced Friday that they had sent right-handed starter Yovani Gallardo to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith and cash considerations.

Gallardo, 30, was slated to make $11 million this year (with a $2 million option buyout for 2018) and Smith, $7 million. One industry source said the Orioles were expected to save about $4 million in the deal, which means the cash changing hands is not expected to be significant.

Smith, a former second-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2004, has hit .261 with a .344 on-base percentage in his 10-year career. Gallardo was 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA for the Orioles last year after signing a two-year deal in the offseason.

Here’s O’s executive vice president Dan Duquette on the acquisition: “Seth Smith is a veteran leader, good on-base man and proven hitter. We look forward to his contributions to the 2017 Orioles.”

Here’s Seattle’s executive vice president Jerry Dipoto on the trade: “Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for. He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher. After examining the free agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this offseason.”

And here’s my take on all of this:

First, it’s a move the Orioles had to make. Yes, no club likes to think it has too much starting pitching. That always comes back to haunt a club. But the reality is the Orioles had six starters for five spots, Gallardo was making $11 million in 2017 and was penciled-in as the odd man out.

Second, Smith checks some much-needed boxes for the Orioles. He is an adequate outfielder that can play left or right – he’s probably better off in right at Camden Yards. He’s not a defensive standout, but one scout said he is definitely an upgrade over Mark Trumbo in right field. Most important, Smith works counts, has a good eye and has a career .344 on-base percentage – something the Orioles were sorely lacking. Last year, Smith hit just .250 in 138 games for the Mariners, but he had a .346 on-base percentage due to 50 walks (he struck out 89 times) in 442 plate appearances.

Smith, in my opinion, fits into what the Orioles are trying to do in that he’s another guy that manager Buck Showalter can move around the corner outfield spots and at DH. He’ll likely sit versus lefties (.202 career hitter versus left-handed pitching), which means he could platoon with someone like Joey Rickard. If his spots are picked – and Showalter is the master at that – Smith could be a solid contributor for the Orioles because he has a lifetime slash-line against right-handers of .272 (average)/.355(OBP)/.472(slugging).

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Reading the tea leaves, this likely means that a potential reunion between the Orioles and DH Pedro Alvarez is history. Alvarez is more limited defensively and doesn’t hit lefties either. However, this probably does nothing to limit the club’s interest in re-signing Trumbo. It could enhance it. Trumbo is right-handed and could fit into the DH slot more often with Smith on the club. And the Orioles, theoretically, have saved a few million in this deal that could be used toward a Trumbo contract (or another signing).

Know this, though: Smith is not a leadoff hitter, doing it just 80 games in his career. He’s better off batting second, where he has hit most in his career, or further down in the lineup. So, the Orioles are still looking for a leadoff hitter, I’d imagine.

One last thing: The Orioles and Mariners have danced plenty of times in recent years, including getting Trumbo for Steve Clevenger last offseason and Wade Miley for Ariel Miranda in July. And no one around here will forget the Erik Bedard trade that helped the Orioles re-establish themselves by adding Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, among others. Most of those deals have worked out well for the Orioles – we’ll see if this one continues that trend.

Bottom line is that it appears to be a good move for the Orioles initially in that it came from a surplus, didn’t affect the bullpen, added a player with needed skills and saved some cash.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. natsidis

    January 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Dan looks like a fairly good move by the O’s. What’s your gut feeling on Trumbo or another DH possibility … Thanks in advance.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      I definitely think another move is in the offing. They saved money and still need a leadoff hitter, and could use Trumbo’s power.

  2. DauerPower

    January 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Seems like the O’s are sending the $2M buy-out figure to Mariners.
    I like this deal as I’m sure we can find someone to replace Gallardo’s weak pitching numbers. I hate the “veteran presence” when that “presence” has a 1.50+ WHIP and 5+ ERA. I’m sure Gunkel can provide those numbers also.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      I will say this about Gallardo. He obviously wasn’t right from the beginning when he signed. His velocity climbed as the season waned. So I’m not sure we saw the real Gallardo in 2016. But the numbers were bad.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Addition by subtraction maybe?

    I’m sure I’ve seen him play at some point, but I don’t recollect. Looked up his numbers … average Joe … no speed … can take a walk … looks serviceable enough, although other than hitting from the left side of the plate, he hardly looks like a full time answer for the corner outfield spot. Also will be 35 soon. Sounds like a typical Duqettian move, which in my opinion, isn’t always a bad thing. Hope he can contribute this year at least.

    Maybe this is the 1st of several/many moves designed to bankroll the cash they’ll need to work a deal for Manny?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Wishful thinking that this road leads to Manny. But, hey, weirder things have happened. Maybe.

  4. karks

    January 6, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I imagine I’m in the minority of people who thought Gallardo was going to have a good 2017. His track record, save for last year, is pretty darn good and I figured that an offseason of good health and stability with his contract would help him rebound.

    That said, Smith seems to be the kind of guy the O’s need. There’s nothing fancy about him but he knows how to get on base and can be adequate in the field.

    I wonder if this means Kim/Rickard may get a shot at a leadoff platoon?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      I still think the leadoff hitter isn’t on the roster yet.

  5. ubetonit

    January 6, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Do we get back the draft pick that we lost when DD signed free agent Gallardo? 🙁

  6. bigdaddydk

    January 7, 2017 at 6:22 am

    It’s funny. I didn’t exactly think of starting pitching as a position of wealth for the O’s, and yet here we are. They’ve parlayed the sixth man in the five man rotation into something useful. I had to look up Smith on Baseball Reference just to get a feel for what the O’s grabbed, and I’m not terribly disappointed. Seems they got the better end of this deal with someone who can legitimately play corner OF, at least most of the time. I see OF by platoon a lot this year. The one thing I’m left wondering is how they’re going to platoon both OF lefties (Smith and Kim) with only Rickard as a legit right-handed bat. Maybe Kim will get some looks at southpaws? In any case, on the surface the O’s appear to have gotten the better end of this trade. They started filling in holes, jettisoned some (in my opinion) dead weight, and created a bit of payroll space.

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