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The Orioles added a starting pitcher via trade Sunday night, as executive vice president Dan Duquette said he would.
They added a lefty – something the Orioles haven’t had in the rotation all year – and they did it relatively cheaply, giving up only a fringe major leaguer.
But the Wade Miley for Ariel Miranda deal with the Seattle Mariners doesn’t appear to be much of a needle-mover in the American League East.
It’s a solid little deal, the acquisition of a legitimate major league starter. But, realistically, Miley is back-end-rotation fodder; something the Orioles can use, but not what they most desperately need.
However, a top-of-the-rotation starter isn’t coming to Baltimore by 4 p.m. Monday. A guy like that probably isn’t moving addresses at all during this season. There aren’t many available – Chris Sale and Chris Archer were in rumors, but likely won’t be dealt – and the price would be exorbitant. Heck, the price for Andrew Cashner, poster child for starting mediocrity, was exorbitant.
So, in one sense, Duquette did what he always does: He made an under-the-radar move for a guy who could be a big help if everything falls in line and could also be a non-factor.
Miley, 29, is 56-54 with a 4.07 ERA in 157 big league games (153 starts). A former supplemental-first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008, Miley’s best season was in 2012, when he was 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA for the Diamondbacks. He has been traded three times since then: To Boston in December 2014, to Seattle in December 2015 and then to the Orioles on Sunday.
He signed a three-year, $19.25 million extension with the Red Sox in 2015 to avoid arbitration before he even threw a pitch at Fenway. He was mediocre in 32 starts with the Red Sox that season (11-11, 4.46 ERA) and has struggled even more with the Mariners this year (7-8, 4.98 ERA in 19 starts).
He’s also guaranteed roughly $11-plus million or so by the Orioles through 2017 (the remainder of his $6 million this year, $8.75 million in 2017 and he has a $12 million option with a $500,000 buyout for 2018).
He’s also not particularly good in the American League East: In 22 starts against the Orioles, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, Miley is 6-9 with a 4.74 ERA. Take out the Rays, and he is 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA in 14 starts.
He’s made three starts at Camden Yards and was 1-2 with an 8.03 ERA. In one outing last June in Baltimore, he gave up three homers and then had a shouting match with Red Sox manager John Farrell in the visiting dugout.
So why would the Orioles make this move?
One, they have no other potential left-handed starters and that’s something that needed to be rectified – and has been rectified for next year, too.
Two, Miley is a known as a fierce competitor – that was what Farrell said to brush away their dustup in 2015 – and the Orioles could use that fire in a pennant race.
Three, Miley has been pretty good lately. Four of his last five starts have been quality, including a dominant performance against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday (one hit, one run, one walk, nine strikeouts in seven innings).
Four, there’s a sense that the Mariners just weren’t a good fit for Miley, for one reason or another, and maybe he needed a change of scenery. Maybe a pennant race will invigorate him – he’s never been in the playoffs in his six-year career.
Five, it was a trade with Seattle, the same organization that graciously bestowed Chris Tillman, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo on the Orioles in the past. Maybe that well isn’t dry yet.
Six, and perhaps most important, this is where Duquette excels: Making moves outside the margins.
It’s possible this trade does nothing. But it is also possible that Duquette bought low again. Miley, after all, is currently in the worst year of his career, but is showing signs of life recently. And Miranda was a completely unknown commodity when the Orioles signed the Cuban defector last May. He had some nice moments in the minors and pitched one game for the Orioles – in Seattle in July – but is already 27 and was not likely to help this season.
Also, this doesn’t preclude the Orioles from making another move or two Monday, or even in August.
So the bottom line is: This was a typical Duquette stroke. It doesn’t look like much now. And that could be the ultimate outcome.
But he’s done enough of these that, on occasion, they work out. And given what the market looks like and the Orioles’ dearth of top prospects, acquiring Miley registers as something better than nothing.
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