Want starting pitching? Orioles need to look at a potential contract swap with the Giants - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Want starting pitching? Orioles need to look at a potential contract swap with the Giants

Photo credit: Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece about Cubs outfielder Jayson Heyward’s bloated contract and suggested that the San Francisco Giants might be a good trade partner.

The thought is that the Cubs will need pitching in 2018, the Giants have some expensive, underperforming starters and need offensive firepower.

To that I say, hold the phone, Giants’ GM Bobby Evans.

Dan Duquette should be on Line 2.

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Duquette should be kicking the tires of Giants’ right-hander Jeff Samardzija and lefty Matt Moore with steel-toed boots.

The Orioles need major help in their rotation. They must add at least two, and ideally, three starting pitchers. As we know, the free agent market is somewhat thin and is going to be expensive and competitive.

And you all know my skepticism, based on past precedent and the reputed bandbox known as Camden Yards, that the Orioles will be able to attract quality pitching via free agency without a severe overpay.

Trades, though, are different.

The players involved have little choice unless they have no-trade clauses in their contracts (and some in this suggested transaction have no-trade clauses that would prevent them from being dealt to undisclosed teams).

The Orioles have gone the trade route in the past to obtain pitching under Duquette, the club’s executive vice president. And the likelihood is strong he’ll try that avenue again.

But instead of dealing away young players – pitchers, in particular – what makes the most sense is for Duquette to find a team that is dealing with an underperforming contract in the rotation and is willing to swap it for one of the Orioles’ underperforming, well-paid hitters.

First baseman Chris Davis is the Orioles’ closest version to the Cubs’ Heyward. Davis has five years remaining on a seven-year, $161 million deal he signed in January 2016; Heyward has six years remaining on an eight-year, $184 million deal he agreed to in December 2016.

Heyward has a full-no trade clause, making his deal even more of an albatross than the Davis contract, which includes a partial no-trade provision.

Frankly, acquiring Davis or Heyward would be a tough sell for other clubs unless major money is thrown in. The Orioles and Cubs are likely are stuck with the untenable deals and must hope that Davis and Heyward can return to form despite disappointing performances the past two years.

But the Orioles have a mini-version of Davis that should be — at least somewhat — intriguing to the Giants: outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo.

Yes, I know the National League doesn’t employ a designated hitter.

But Trumbo is more than that. He’s a solid first baseman – just not as good defensively as Davis – and he can play the corner outfield if necessary.

And though the 31-year-old Trumbo had a thoroughly disappointing season in 2017, his 23 homers and 146 games played would have led the 2017 Giants, which had no player hit more than 18 homers or play more than 144 games this past season.

Trumbo has roughly $26 million and two years remaining on the three-year, $37.5 million deal he signed in January. That’s certainly not a bargain, but it’s not prohibitive, either. He also has a limited no-trade clause (allowing him to block deals to seven undisclosed clubs).

The Giants’ regular first baseman, Brandon Belt, can play the corner outfield as well, so some positional flexibility is available. And if the Giants are truly seeking power, well, Trumbo is one year removed from leading the AL with 47 longballs.

The Orioles can afford to jettison Trumbo because they have plenty of power – and manager Buck Showalter would love to use the designated hitter role as a floating rest stop, and not have it bogged down by one player (plus, Trumbo hits better when he’s also playing in the field).

Samardzija, 32, was pretty awful last year; he was 9-15 with a 4.42 ERA while pitching his home games in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. But he threw a league-high 207 2/3 innings, walked only 32 and struck out 205. Having someone who can hit spots and miss bats would be welcomed in the Orioles’ rotation, though his 30 homers surrendered in the NL is an ugly harbinger.

Also ugly: He’s owed $18 million each of the next three seasons (part of a five-year, $90 million deal) and has a limited trade clause.

Samardzija’s not an ideal fit, but he should be a legitimate consideration. Yes, he’s got a huge contract, but minus Trumbo’s salary from the payroll when you add Samardzija’s and it doesn’t seem too outlandish.

Moore, the 28-year-old lefty and former Tampa Bay Ray, was even worse for the Giants last year. He was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 games (31 starts).

He’s had success before in the AL East, is young enough and far enough removed from Tommy John surgery that there still is some potential upside. The problem is his contract, signed when he was with the Rays, is fairly reasonable. The Giants have already picked up his $9 million option for 2018 and the club also has a $10 million option for 2019.

If the Giants were to deal Moore, it would likely take more than just Trumbo. Heck, so might any Samardzija deal.

But given the Giants’ rotation strength and need for power, you’d think Moore and (especially) Samardzija would be available in the right deal.

Maybe the Orioles can’t offer the right deal – but they sure should take a shot.

Let’s face it: Their options are limited and their rotation problems are significant.

So, stay on hold Duquette. Don’t hang up. Make a deal if the Giants are listening.

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    November 10, 2017 at 8:33 am

    As much as I like your idea of swapping Trumbo, I’d MUCH rather keep him than swap for Jiminez 2.0 or Miley 2.0.
    Why pay all those millions of dollars when the O’s have AAA & AA pitchers who will cough up runs for hundreds of thousands of dollars?

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 10, 2017 at 8:38 am

      And the odds of Camden Yards, the AL East (And DHs all around), and current O’s pitching coaches give me zero expectation that the pitchers you mentioned have any hope of rebounding here.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 8:58 am

      But it’s not as if the guys at AAA and/or AA give any hope of similar production. And top pitchers aren’t coming here on their own. And you need starting pitching. You have to be proactive. Plus, you’re spending much of that same money anyway on Trumbo. At least it would be allocated for pitching.

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      I believe the guys in the minors have at least as good a chance of surprising us as either of the two from SF.
      I love your idea in principal — who else might be a partner? If no one, then I’d rather take my chances with the young guys. I’m sick to death of seeing veterans get lit up — and cashing checks worth millions of dollars while doing it!! At least there is hope that a young guy might learn and improve.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      I just don’t share your enthusiasm for the current crop underneath. Not at Camden Yards in the summer. Maybe one guy surprises. Not 3.

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 10, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      We are in complete agreement on those points.

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 10, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      What I’m saying is that if I HAD to choose a current O’s minor leaguer or either of the SF guys, I’d stay in house; so I wouldn’t entertain procuring either of them under any conditions, not even if SF threw a bunch of money into the mix.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Yeah. Have to agree to disagree (which is always fine). They may not work out but if you swap contracts you aren’t taking on that much more salary. So I’d definitely take one in that scenario. But we are in agreement that neither is a real difference maker. I do however believe either is an upgrade.

    • rickytrommer

      November 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I like the idea. I’d rather have Moore since he’s a lefty. But I’d take Samardziji. What other teams are similar trade fits? This reminds me of the Gallardo for Smith trade last offseason.

  2. Orial

    November 10, 2017 at 9:01 am

    A no brainer Dan. Anything to move Trumbo. Nothing personal about Trumbo but he is a logjam in the lineup. Samardzjia is half of what he was but useful. Trumbo to KC for Ian Kennedy also works for me. Again it’s the lineup logjam that concerns me any extra pitching help would be a small bonus. Dan see Christian Yellich name out there. How about Hays,Akin,Scott for him?

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      I think Yelich is a great young player. A budding superstar. But, 1. I don’t think that’s enough of a package for him. 2. If the Orioles are giving up that kind of package it has to be for a controllable starting pitcher in my opinion.

  3. The Wedge

    November 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I’d be perfectly fine with keeping Mark and betting on him bouncing back. Or at least having a season in between his ’16 and ’17 ones. I wouldn’t trust Smards at all in OPACY; his repertoire doesn’t play here.

    I do appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking, DC; totally get your rationale behind it.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      I expect Trumbo to have a better year. So I don’t see anything wrong with keeping him except they need to acquire starting pitching and if a power-needy team is intrigued the Orioles have to deal someone to get arms.

  4. jonniebmore

    November 10, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Dan, I’d do this deal in a minute. The other thing it does is it gets Mancini out of the outfield and to 1b/dh where he belongs. Yes, he did ok out there, surprisingly, but he is no outfielder. The O’s must upgrade the outfield defense. They could then try to sign John Jay to play left field and hit lead-off. The team potentially improves in 3 positions,(of, dh, sp) if Samardzjia performs. A good risk, in my book.

    • Orial

      November 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

      jonnie that is exactly why they have to move Trumbo(Mancini DH). The OF has to get more athletic.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      That certainly would help. But outfield D is far below rotation on my priority list

      • jonniebmore

        November 10, 2017 at 1:39 pm

        Yes, but defense goes hand in hand with effective pitching. I think the O’s have equal priorities: the rotation, the defense, more balance in the offense. They have to address all three. This one move you describe hits them all.

  5. Creatively_19

    November 10, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I agree with you that the O’s need to think outside the box to acquire starting pitching, but I just don’t believe that Matt Moore or Jeff Samardzija are the ones the O’s need. You’re talking about two guys who tied for the league lead in losses last season. That’s not the kind of block-buster move the O’s need to make to endear themselves to their fans at this point.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      With all due respect — and you know I highly respect your opinion 19 — the only way Os endear themselves to fans is by winning. And they need to find three solid starters by February to do that. High ERAs/HRs in SF are concerning, but the loss totals don’t concern me. And, honestly, if the loss totals were different, we wouldn’t be having this convo. It would take a whole lot more.

    • Orial

      November 11, 2017 at 8:37 am

      The point to me is not who(pitchers) you’re getting but who you’re giving up Trumbo).

  6. PA Bird Lover

    November 10, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Getting something for Davis would signal a successful off season, in my opinion. I’m so tired of seeing his half assed swings then looking out into space wishing he was fishing a great trout stream.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Really hard contract to deal given his performances the past 2 years.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    November 10, 2017 at 10:46 am

    “Frankly, acquiring Davis or Heyward would be a tough sell for other clubs unless major money is thrown in. The Orioles and Cubs are likely are stuck with the untenable deals and must hope that Davis and Howard can return to form despite disappointing performances the past two years.”

    I’m not one to point out clerical errors, as Dan-o is an accomplished professional and needs no proofreading from me. I’m merely pointing out that Chris Davis and his contract are so near to completing their hideous, Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” transformation into the Ryan Howard disaster that they are even confusing longtime Orioles writers as to who is who.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Oof. Fixed it. Nice catch. Subconscious mistake?

  8. Wade Warren

    November 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Trade Trumbo for pitching I agree but also resign Pedro for part time DH

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Yeah, that could be another part of the equation if they so desired.

  9. 54orioles

    November 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I would think that a trade of Trumbo would be worth a C plus pitcher to any team in need of a bat at first base. Maybe even a C minus pitcher who throws ground ball outs. Oriole defense is great but the ball has to be thrown in the strike zone and stay in the park once it is hit. I agree with Buck in that the DH is a good spot for a every day player that needs a rest. Why give up a roster spot to someone who is limited in the field. Fielding a pitching wins games.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Again, I think it is all about the makeup of your roster. Left-handed power is a commodity.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      I was focusing on Pedro with that one. Trumbo hasn’t switched sides in the box.

  10. 5brooks5

    November 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I agree with trying to move Trumbo, his type bat is the last thing this line up needs. How about a Trumbo, Kennedy swap of contracts with KC?

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      I think that is a fit too.

  11. Ben1

    November 10, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Why look ar underperforming NL pitchers thaf dont face AL DHs that often. Didn’t DD just sign a NL pitcher from Philadelphia that did NOT work out well at all?

    • Dan Connolly

      November 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      He did trade for Hellickson, yes. But I don’t think they are in a position to eliminate half of the teams they could deal with. It has to be the best fit available. And it has to be realistic.

  12. toonman

    November 11, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Dan, respect your work. Couple points:

    a) I think people are under-rating Jeff Samardzija’s 2017. Yes, the ERA is ugly, but other metrics suggested he was still a strong starter. He tapered off in the 2nd half, but there was a stretch in the first half where, ERA aside, you could argue that he was a top 10-15 pitcher in baseball last year. Even at season’s end, it’s not hard to come up with an argument, ERA aside, that he was a top 30 pitcher in baseball last year.

    b) This isn’t to diminish that his contract is … unwieldy. That said, there’s only 3 years remaining, and several of these FA arms are likely to get 4 years or more. 3 years and 58.5 remaining (at a quick glance) is bad … but if Lance Lynn gets, say, 5/75 with his decreasing velocity … is Samardzija, a likely better pitcher, worse? Also, 3 years fits with the Orioles philosophy.

    c) All the Giants rumors, that is publicly available, seems to suggest that they aren’t rebuilding – they are more or less going for it, so I tend to think that they will keep Shark (Bumgarner/Cueto/Shark would be a very good trio), hope Melancon bounces back (wasn’t that bad last year, but wasn’t good), and pick up a cheap bat or two. Keep in mind that their positional holes in the MLB are mostly in the OF (their IF is fairly set), and that the Giants system, while weak, does have OF’s. Austin Slater could perhaps takeover as the CF/leadoff option, pushing Span to a backup role

    d) In general, I have a tough time seeing a Trumbo deal to the Giants as I just don’t know about the fit there.

    e) This part will get howls from people here, I presume, due to a love for Davis amongst the Baltimore fanbase, but I would make an argument that if the money could be balanced out (which is tricky, with Davis’ deferral), a Davis for Heyward trade makes a ton of sense for the Orioles. The Orioles OF defense is one of the worst in the majors. Heyward in RF would be a huge upgrade. Heck, he’d probably be a defensive upgrade over Jones in CF, but ideally, you try to find another CF to eventually push Jones to a corner role. Mancini would go to first, Trumbo would be DH. The loss of Davis’ power isn’t that bad with the development of Schoop’s bat in the past year. The Cubs are looking to ditch Heyward, if possible, to open room for their youngsters.

    The problem is, the Cubs wouldn’t want Davis, so another team is needed, and anything past two teams is when things get complicated (and the team Davis actually makes the most sense for might be Boston, looking for power at 1st or DH, but if they swing the Stanton deal, that need would be lessened).

  13. geevee3

    November 11, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Not really sure what anyone sees in the Shark. I was in the Bay area right after the giants got him. Prior to the game I was telling an SF fan “I don’t get it…” and citing career numbers that indicated mediocrity. He gave up 6 runs in 4 innings and I felt vindicated. I’m not saying he doesn’t belong in the majors, I just don’t get the “He’s so good” hype. Where did it ever begin?

  14. John in Cincy

    November 11, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    “And you all know my skepticism, based on past precedent and the reputed bandbox known as Camden Yards, that the Orioles will be able to attract quality pitching via free agency without a severe overpay.”
    ……………………………………………..
    Yes & no, Dan. It really depends on who the starter is. If we’re talking about someone with dominant stuff, he can pitch anywhere, and one who has a high ground ball can work out well at Camden Yards.

  15. mlbbirdfan

    November 12, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Trade Davis, Trumbo, Britton and some cash for MadBum. Let Bumgarner serve as DH four days out of five. Opens up two position player spots, improves the rotation.
    Your suggestion to trade Davis is about the same level of idle speculation as my trip down the yellow brick road. The Davis contract is a horrendous albatross. Good luck dealing him.
    One thought on our pitching: the departure of Castillo should improve our staff ERA at least one run per game, maybe Moore (pun alert).

  16. bv22

    November 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    It’s a nice thought, but why would SF want Trumbo? They have Belt playing first predominantly, and they usually put Buster Posey in at first once a week or so to give him a break from catching. The plan is to eventually move Posey out of catching into full time first base duties since his bat is so valuable to the team. If they were to acquire Trumbo, that would mean Trumbo or Posey takes a day off each week while Belt plays outfield.

    The basis of the article in the Tribune was that Heyward would go to CF while sliding Span over to the one of the corner slots or being relegated to a bench role while the Cubbies would get a pitcher to fill in for Arrieta and the other one who’s left via free agency this year. It was a win-win for both parties. Trumbo going to SF wouldn’t exactly be a winning transaction for them.

  17. ZantiGM

    November 18, 2017 at 9:24 am

    It’s going to be a real challenge to trade Trumbo but we really need too…I would also trade O’Day to an interested contending team if we could get a decent prospect in return.

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