This year’s trade deadline may fall on August 1, but make no mistake about it: July is still the month of the deal.
Middling teams use the opportunity to re-stock their farm systems by trading veterans for minor league talent. Contenders are at the opposite end of this exchange, as the Orioles have been since their run of success began in 2012.
With that in mind, I wanted to look back at the most notable deals of the Dan Duquette era. Not all of these were made during the July trade season, but nearly every transaction represents a desire to improve the major league club in the present term, while perhaps sacrificing some of the organization’s future talent. You’ll see incredible successes and disappointing failures on this list, but regardless, one thing has been clear: Under Dan Duquette, the Orioles haven’t been afraid to make a deal.
February 6, 2012: Jeremy Guthrie traded to the Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom
Dan Duquette’s first major trade as head of the Orioles’ baseball operations was an outstanding one. While Guthrie struggled mightily for the Rockies in 2012 (he posted a 6.35 ERA for them before being traded to Kansas City), Hammel was outstanding with Baltimore. Despite a knee injury that limited him to just 118 regular-season innings, Hammel compiled a 3.43 ERA and struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings. And let’s not forget about Matt Lindstrom, who pitched capably out of the O’s bullpen and netted a key piece for their playoff run in another deal that August (we’ll get to that in a bit).
June 30, 2012: Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon traded to the Phillies for Jim Thome
Despite the fact that the Orioles acquired a future Hall of Famer, this trade didn’t end up being noteworthy for either team. Thome slashed a respectable .257/.348/.396 in 101 at-bats, but he followed that with just 2 hits in 15 at-bats in the postseason. Both Lino and Simon are still playing in the minor leagues, but neither has advanced to the majors.
August 26, 2012: Matt Lindstrom and cash traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Joe Saunders
Lindstrom was solid out of the O’s bullpen in 2012 (2.72 ERA in 36 1/13 innings), but what the club really needed was another reliable starting pitcher for the final month of the season and their eventual playoff run. And that’s exactly what they obtained in Saunders. The veteran left-hander posted a 3.63 ERA in seven regular-season games, and then allowed just 2 runs over two playoff starts, including his memorable performance winning the first AL wildcard game against the Texas Rangers (one run allowed over 5 2/3 innings).
July 2, 2013: Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop and cash traded to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger
After a quiet offseason and a three-month stretch of contention to begin 2013, Dan Duquette went about trying to bolster the Orioles starting rotation for another playoff push. With Jake Arrieta (7.23 ERA) and Pedro Strop (7.25 ERA) struggling and veteran starting pitcher Scott Feldman available and pitching well (3.46 ERA in 91 innings), a trade was born.
Feldman was respectable for the Orioles – he posted a 4.27 ERA in 15 starts – but the team failed to make the playoffs, and the right-hander signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Houston Astros after the season. Arrieta has compiled a 2.23 ERA in 540 1/3 innings for the Cubs since the trade, and captured the 2015 NL Cy Young Award. In Strop’s 194 1/3 innings as a Cub, his ERA stands at 2.69. As for Clevenger, he shouldn’t be forgotten. Keep reading and you’ll find out why.
July 23, 2013: Nick Delmonico traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Francisco Rodriguez
Here’s another trade with good intentions for both clubs that turned out to have little impact for either. Rodriguez registered a 4.50 ERA for the Orioles, while Delmonico lasted less than two full seasons in the Brewers organization before being released in 2015 after testing positive for an amphetamine. He’s currently playing at Triple-A Charlotte, a White Sox affiliate.
July 31, 2013: L,J. Hoes, Josh Hader and 2014 competitive balance round A pick traded to the Houston Astros for Bud Norris
Duquette’s second attempt to improve the 2013 starting rotation netted him Bud Norris from the Astros in a deal that was struck just minutes before the trade deadline. Norris wasn’t much help down the stretch (4.80 ERA in 50 2/3 innings), but pitched much better in a 15-win campaign the following season. He won one more game that year in the playoffs – the ALDS-clincher against the Tigers – but was disastrous a year later and was released in August 2015.
Hoes is back in the Orioles organization after parts of three seasons in Houston, and the draft pick netted the Astros outfielder Derek Fisher, one of their top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America. But perhaps the real prize of this trade was Hader. The left-handed pitcher out of Old Mill High School posted a 0.95 ERA in 57 innings at Double-A for the Brewers before being promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs in early June. Hader was dealt from the Astros to Milwaukee in last season’s Carlos Gomez trade.
November 25, 2013: Devin Jones traded to the San Diego Padres for Brad Brach
This deal was announced on the same day the Orioles claimed Cord Phelps off waivers from the Cleveland Indians, and just five days after Edgmer Escalona was signed as a free agent. It was easily overlooked and lumped in with these other “depth” transactions, which is basically what it was at the time. But it has turned out to be anything but. Brach has become a key cog in the O’s bullpen since the trade, compiling a 2.49 ERA in 184 1/3 innings. Not bad for a “depth” acquisition, especially when considering that Jones eventually returned to the O’s organization and is now out of baseball.
December 2, 2013: Jim Johnson traded to the Oakland A’s for Jemile Weeks and David Freitas
This one goes down as a trade, but it was just as much a salary dump. Johnson, after saving 101 games for the Orioles over two seasons, was about to earn about $9 million in arbitration for the 2014 season. The O’s thought that they could allocate those funds more effectively and in turn dealt Johnson for a small return. It turns out that they were right. The right-hander posted a 7.14 ERA for Oakland and was released August 1; the Orioles spent the $9 million elsewhere and won the AL East.
December 18, 2013: Danny Valencia traded to the Kansas City Royals for David Lough
While it’s easily forgotten, this deal actually looks bad in hindsight thanks to Valencia’s bat. Lough never hit above .250 in two seasons with the Orioles, while Valencia has slashed .289/.337/.474 for three teams since the trade.
May 24, 2014: Troy Patton traded to the San Diego Padres for Nick Hundley
When Matt Wieters’ ailing elbow surfaced in early 2014 (it eventually required Tommy John surgery in June), the Orioles needed additional catching depth, which led them to Hundley. The veteran backstop was solid in his time in Baltimore, batting .233 and quickly establishing a good rapport with pitchers. Patton is currently out of baseball following multiple suspensions for amphetamines.
July 31, 2014: Eduardo Rodriguez traded to the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Miller
Enhancing an already-strong bullpen for the late season and playoffs was the idea when Duquette traded for Miller on deadline day in 2014. And that’s exactly what happened. The left-hander was dominant in Baltimore, striking out 34 in 20 regular-season innings. And he followed that up with 7 1/3 scoreless frames in the postseason, allowing just one hit and striking out eight. Rodriguez started 21 games for Boston last season and pitched well (3.85 ERA). But since returning from a knee injury suffered in spring training, the young hurler has struggled in 2016 (8.59 ERA in 29 1/3 innings).
August 30, 2014: Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas traded to the Chicago White Sox for Alejandro De Aza
Looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder who had already cleared waivers led Duquette to the White Sox, who dealt De Aza to Baltimore in late August 2014. The veteran was outstanding for the O’s the rest of the season, slashing .293/.341/.537. Neither Blackmar nor Chalas have thrown an inning in affiliated ball so far in 2016.
January 27, 2015: Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Travis Snider
The Orioles were in search of outfield help after Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz left as free agents, and Snider was brought in to fill one of the starting corner spots. It didn’t work out as the O’s would’ve hoped, though; Snider hit just .237 and was released in August. Tarpley and Brault, both left-handed pitchers, are each ranked in the top 20 of the Pirates farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.
April 9, 2015: Ryan Webb, Brian Ward and 2015 competitive balance round B pick traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Chris O’Brien and Ben Rowen
In an effort to shed Webb’s 2015 salary, Duquette shipped a competitive balance draft pick (number 74 overall) and Ward to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers. LA absorbed the money and designated Webb for assignment immediately; he never pitched for them. Rowen lasted just three months in the O’s organization, and O’Brien is currently hitting .143 at Triple-A Norfolk.
June 3, 2015: Alejandro De Aza traded to the Boston Red Sox for Joe Gunkel
After hitting just .214 over the first few months of 2015, the Orioles designated De Aza for assignment and dealt him to the Red Sox during the 10-day period. Gunkel, 24, is currently sporting a 4.04 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk.
July 31, 2015: Zach Davies traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Gerardo Parra
Parra was acquired last July as the Orioles were searching for increased production from their outfield. He wasn’t much help the rest of the way, batting just .237 for Baltimore before signing a free agent deal with Colorado over the winter. The 23-year-old Davies has spent time in Milwaukee’s rotation since the deal, posting a 3.73 ERA in 108 2/3 combined innings over the two seasons.
July 31, 2015: Tommy Hunter traded to the Chicago Cubs for Junior Lake
In their second deadline day maneuver, the O’s sent Hunter to the Cubs in a move designed to add more “optionable” pieces to the bullpen and shed salary. Junior Lake, the outfielder received in return, is no longer in the organization (the Blue Jays just recalled him from Triple-A on June 24).
December 2, 2015: Steve Clevenger traded to the Seattle Mariners for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser
Remember when I said that Clevenger would be reappearing? Well he’s doing so in a big way, as Duquette used him to acquire Trumbo, the current AL home run leader. The Mariners needed salary relief to make other moves, and the O’s – in search of a power bat and first base candidate in case Chris Davis left via free agency – pounced. Davis ended up re-signing and the tandem has combined for 42 homers through Wednesday. Clevenger, who made the Mariners as their backup catcher out of spring training, was hitting .221 before fracturing a bone in his hand on Wednesday.
February 4, 2016: Traded Jean Cosme to the San Diego Padres for Odrisamer Despaigne
The Orioles acquired Despaigne – a controllable arm with minor-league options remaining – in early February for Cosme, who spent last season at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Despaigne was recalled to Baltimore from Triple-A Norfolk on June 14 and has posted a 1.13 ERA in six major-league games thus far. Cosme, 20, has a 2.80 ERA in 64 1/3 innings for Single-A Fort Wayne.
May 23, 2016: Brian Matusz and 2016 competitive balance round B pick traded to the Atlanta Braves for Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek
Like the Ryan Webb deal from a year earlier, the Braves took on Matusz’s 2016 salary (roughly $3 million remaining) in exchange for a draft pick from the Orioles. Matusz was once again immediately designated for assignment and never pitched for Atlanta; he has since signed a minors deal with the Cubs. In return, the O’s received two minor-league pitchers in Barker and Belicek. Barker, 23, was assigned to Double-A Bowie and has a 3.29 ERA in 38 1/3 innings through Wednesday. The also-23-year-old Belicek hasn’t fared nearly as well at High-A Frederick; he currently sports a 6.38 ERA in 18 1/3 innings.