Tap-In Question: If O's sell, should they target best pitching available or best overall package? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: If O’s sell, should they target best pitching available or best overall package?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Let’s get a little philosophical in the Tap Room today as we wait to figure out what club Executive Vice President Dan Duquette is going to do with these Orioles by next Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

I’d still imagine they are sellers, but to what extent is the real question.

For a moment, let’s assume the Orioles are gonna trade a major commodity, such as closer Zach Britton, setup man Brad Brach or even third baseman Manny Machado. In writing about those hypotheticals, I mentioned the Orioles would need a pitching-heavy package of prospects.

Some readers bristled at the idea of that specific of a return. Their argument is that if the Orioles were to trade away a Britton or a Machado, they’d have to get the best package available, regardless of position. You always want the best talent, even if it isn’t rotation bound.

And this is where our philosophical discussion begins. Because we aren’t talking names, and even if we were, we’d only be talking about reputation, since none of us have seen any of the “prospects,” that have been mentioned in organizations such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and others.

So, I want to know if you think the top prospects in any “sell” deal have to be starting pitcher candidates.

I say yes.

Normally, I’m all for getting the highest-ceiling talent, regardless of position, like in the amateur draft (or in the international market, if the Orioles were ever a part of that).

But this is different. The primary reason these Orioles may be selling is because their rotation isn’t strong enough for a long postseason run. That rotation only has two starters, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, signed next year (Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez are free agents and Wade Miley basically is; he has a team option for $12 million that comes with a $500,000 buyout).


And, as we know, there is no one from the Triple-A rotation pounding down the big league door. Meanwhile, there are some position players – catcher Chance Sisco, infielder Ryan Mountcastle and outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays – who may have a legitimate shot of helping the Orioles at some point in 2018.

That’s why I think the Orioles need to get the best pitching prospect or two available in a trade – my thought is one that is on the cusp now and another that’s higher-ceiling but a year or two away — and fill in the rest of the package after that. It may sound crazy, but give me two Top 100 pitching prospects instead of one Top 20 outfielder (or whatever position).

The need now is too great to simply go for best total prospects available and deal with how they fit later. But I know some of you feel otherwise. So how about we all chew on this one along with some stale pretzels at the bar.

Tap-In Question: If the Orioles are selling, do they go for best overall prospect package or must it be starting pitcher heavy?



  1. UpTheOs

    July 26, 2017 at 7:14 am

    For me, it depends on how long the rebuild is. If they’re looking to quickly get back into contention for 2018, you have to target starting pitching. If they’re trading Machado and every other veteran that’ll get any prospects back, I’d go for best player available, on the theory that you can trade later for proven starters from any position you have a surplus at when you start to look like contending again.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 11:56 am

      It’s just so hard to trade for a proven starter. The price is astronomical and you have to have a great system to survive it. Look at what the Sox had to give up to get Sale.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 26, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Jeepers Dan …. More talk of selling? I seriously can’t wait for this month to come to an end, so that we can get over this … but if we must … and if fake beer chips are on the line … I’ll throw in my 2 cents.

    If we absolutely MUST sell … I say take the best package available. I know, I know, our starters stink, stank, stunk this year, and that’s what we currently need … but the bigger picture is that our minor league talent pool is on the shallow side.

    Think about this … How do you acquire starting pitching ? Well if you’re the Big Apple or Beantown, you simply pony up the $$$. We ain’t either of those towns, so our best bet to “purchase pitching”, is to trade minor league prospects. Problem with that is that we don’t have a wealth of minor league prospects. So in my not so humble opinion, I believe that the purpose of selling our current players should be to accumulate a number of players/prospects, so that in turn, we might leverage that pool of players for pitching in the future. Or something like that.

    But then again … I’m on record as stating the only player that should currently be considered as trade bait, is Manny Machado. (But then again, after watching that double play he & Schoop turned on Monday, I’m not sure I’d be so fast to trade him either)

    • Osfan73

      July 26, 2017 at 9:53 am

      A good point/idea…..Obtain other “best package” assets to make up the difference, in payroll??, between the Os and “them” in order to help get us pitching. The more I say it to myself the more it makes sense!

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 11:59 am

      First, you get a drink chip just for using Jeepers to start. Second, I like the collecting prospects thing, but you really need a whole lot to land a top starter. Third, I apologize in advance Boog? But most of our content in next couple days will be trade related.

  3. karks

    July 26, 2017 at 8:32 am

    They have to get at least one starting pitcher. The only ‘but’ here is if they think they can turn one of these prospects around and flip them for a pitcher. Or use that prospect to replace another Oriole who gets traded (like a third baseman that frees them up to trade Manny).

    The O’s probably aren’t going to outbid a whole lot of teams for whatever free agent pitchers are available in the offseason. DD always says they have to “grow arms and buy bats”. So I really think a starting pitcher who can help them next year is a must in any significant deal.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      That grow the arms thing is actually a MacPhail thing. But it is a truism. And you are right, the Orioles aren’t spending big for a free agent pitcher any time soon. Not after ownership went out of its 3-year comfort zone and gave 4 to Ubaldo.

      • karks

        July 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        How could I have forgotten it was Andy??? But yeah, it just doesn’t seem like there’s any way they will spend big on a free agent starter. Prospects have to come in however possible at this point.

  4. Nate Wardle

    July 26, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Frequent reader, first time poster. I am on the ‘sell’ train, but believe selling Machado requires an optimal deal. You just don’t trade him because you need to.

    That said, if I am trading, I’m trading for best package. And I think Houston may be the ideal team to trade with. They have a glut of OFs with Springer, Reddick and Marisnick all under contract for several years. They also have two top OF prospects in Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher (of Lebanon, Pa.)

    I would try to get Reddick or Marisnick or Fisher (whichever is ‘cheaper,’) Marwin Gonzalez, who is soon not going to have a regular position and could be a utility player for the Orioles who is good enough to start (keep them from carrying Flaherty/other utility player, allowing them to carry 13 pitchers) and Francis Martes, their top SP prospect or one of their other top P prospects.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Nate: drink chip for walking down to this side of the bar. Second, Fisher is the guy Astros drafted with the comp pick they received in the Norris trade from Os (ouch). Third, Gonzalez goes nowhere. They loooove him and the flexibility he has given them. Otherwise, tho, I agree. Astros are in best position to deal. Martes would be the crown jewel.

      • ZantiGM

        July 26, 2017 at 10:04 pm

        martes, davis-3b and whitley-rhp for britton

  5. Osfan73

    July 26, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Right now IMO the Os need to target starting pitching. Though uneven this year I still like Bundy/Gausman but they clearly are not enough. Get them help for nxt year and some younger future pitchers if you can.
    The only way I go for “best package” over “best pitching” is if I can then spin that off for pitching. It’s just too glaring a need right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      I’m with ya. Which means you get a drink chip. Bartender bias.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    July 26, 2017 at 9:57 am

    If Duquette sells Britton or Machado and doesn’t get at least one top flight pitching prospect in the deal, the pitchfork and torch mob descending upon the Warehouse will be foaming at the mouth. Unless you have already arranged a deal to flip those prospects for current Big league arms, I think the focus has to be on starters at the cusp of MLB readiness. BUT, with both Showalter and DD heading into the walk years of their contract, and Peter Angelos inching closer to 90 years old, I don’t think any is overly concerned about the long term and 2018 is going to be a “damn the torpedos”, all-in type year.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      A full rebuild is always a tough sell. Especially given the dynamics you discussed. I don’t see all that happening this month, maybe not this year.

  7. Ben1

    July 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Pitching .. quality pitching … the kind DD doesnt recognize

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 26, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Dan recognizes it. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize it. He just doesn’t have the resource pool to acquire it. Specifically, what would you have had him do over the past couple of years?

      • Damon Bowman

        July 27, 2017 at 3:53 pm

        Does Duquette recognize good pitching? Signing Jimenez and Gallardo were very poor choices the two most recent times Duquette dipped his toe into the free agent market. Jimenez was consistently inconsistent nearly every year he’d pitched in the Majors and Gallardo was coming off his 2nd or 3rd consecutive season where nearly all his peripherals were pointing at something worse yet to come.


    July 26, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Teams trade for needs, that’s a fact. Getting the best possible return is how we measure the trade and the birds badly need starters. I disagree that Miley is likely to stay because of the option. If two decent starters can be found to compliment Bundy and Gausman, I wouldn’t mind the Norfolk Shuttle for the 5th spot and I’m not so sure that shuttle goes away. Finding that third replacement is going to be the hard part, regardless of any trades.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      I’m not sure who said Miley is staying. No chance they pick up that option. Sorry if I misled ya. No shot.

  9. All_The_Way_Up

    July 26, 2017 at 10:55 am

    It depends on what is being offered & what your scouts think of the prospects however SP, 3B, SS, & CF should always be targeted.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Fair enough. Up the middle and starters.

  10. garyintheloo

    July 26, 2017 at 11:50 am

    As I have said before we need rotation help for Britton, Brach and/or O’Day. The Os need to name the prospects they want in any possible trades. However, if the next Mookie Betts is available I’ll take him and make up the extra pitching in the Machado trade this winter. Remember Britton and O’Day could help a contender for two postseasons.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      I don’t see O’Day getting dealt. $20 million thru 2019, he’s 34 and has struggled some, mainly cuz of injuries. If they deal him, it would be salary related and not for legit prospects.

  11. woody

    July 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Zach Britton pitching bottom of 8th trailing 3-1… I guess this is a farewell outing

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 26, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      He just pitched his trade price down.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      So long as he shows he is healthy, I’m not sure an individual performance makes a difference. Of course, a clean inning in a save situation would make all involved feel better.

  12. Glstem

    July 26, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    problem is evaluating talent Zach Davies 12-4 Peter Bidwell 5-1 Ariel Miranda 7-5

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      I hear what you are saying now. Talk to me at the end of the year. Things have a way of evening out.

    • Damon Bowman

      July 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Zach Davies 12-4 Peter Bidwell 5-1 Ariel Miranda 7-5
      While I won’t argue against the team having trouble evaluating talent, I wouldn’t use a pitcher’s record as the evidence in building an argument. against the O’s ability to evaluate talent While Davies is 12-4, his ERA is 4.45 and WHIP is 1.440 — very unappealing numbers for a starter. Miranda is 7-4 but his ERA is 4.30 and his FIP of 5.18 points to something worse going on beneath the surface numbers. Bridwell’s ERA is very nice at 3.09 but that FIP of 5.28 tells me he’s been bailed out by good defense and been pretty lucky for the Angels.

  13. Bosleycattle

    July 26, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Honestly to me I’m targeting 1 or 2 top starting pitcher prospects and then good portion player prospects in a package. It never hurts to have pitching waiting in the wings and the ones we have won’t be helping this year and probably not next year.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      If they are dealing a Britton or Machado they better get somebody that can help real close to immediately.


    July 26, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for the reassurance Dan, I misread- my coffee hasn’t kicked in. count me in on getting two decent pitching prospects any way they can. I can’t see any station where we can’t get that from Zack. Unless he acts like he did today. Keep Zack benched until traded, problem solved.

  15. garyintheloo

    July 26, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    And another thought: I thought the Os were delusional to think this team could put on a streak to end the season and make the playoffs after their now legendary rotation meltdowns. I hope that they have done their homework from early this month to scout other farm systems so they can ask for whom they must have to make any trade worthwhile. A late change of direction without the prep work would not acquire what this team needs.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 26, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      We have Gary. So hold that thought until Thurs morning.

  16. bv22

    July 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    My vote goes towards obtaining the best overall package that has a top almost ready for primetime starting pitcher in it. Basically, if they can replicate the Bedard for Jones, Tillman, Sherill, and also rans trade from a few years ago where the pitching prospect is the Jones of the deal and they get another top prospect to be the Tillman of the deal, then they’ll be set. I’m hesitant to go pitching heavy since the club has shown an inability to develop pitchers over the years and their recent drafts seem to be fairly pitching heavy anyway.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 27, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      My concern is they have almost nothing in the rotation for 2018. But I get your point.

      • bv22

        July 28, 2017 at 10:50 am

        I understand your concern but the other thing that has crossed my mind, which I forgot to put in my original comment is I remember reading or hearing an adage somewhere that if you have a group of like 5 pitchers and get one of them to pop, (i.e., make it to the show and stay), then you’re lucky; if you get 2 of the 5 to pop, then that’s amazing. So, with that in mind, would it really be a good idea to trade for a bunch of pitching prospects hoping that at least one of them turns into a bonafide starter? I’d prefer the best overall package where maybe you wind up with a pitcher and a position player out of the deal.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 28, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Honestly that’s basically the deal for all prospects. Not just pitchers. Pitchers may be a little more volatile. But all prospects are a risk. I feel like if you are gonna roll the dice anyway, roll it with pitchers at this juncture in the organization.

  17. Jacobs1928

    July 27, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    The type of organization created by the Angelos and DD can be defined by the fact that the
    O’s have only 2 minor league players listed in the top 100. This, in my opinion, is either
    The result of poor scouting or a management decision not to spend on potential but to
    Buy or trade from other teams..
    The comments made that we could get into the playoffs in the last slot is a defeatist attitude .
    If we had a talented organization at all levels we could be in a position to win our
    Division and enter the playoffs.
    I was happy when a local purchased the O’s …but now I wish they would sell.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 28, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Jake: I just don’t see how making the wild card spot is a defeatist attitude. That means you are one of 10 teams in the playoffs. One of 5 with a chance to make the playoffs. And 12 have made the World Series since the Wild Card began. One of the reasons — there are plenty of others — that the Os are without top prospects is they have dealt away picks and players in the past few years to compete and have one of baseball’s best records in last 5 years. Teams can rarely do both. The great organizations, though, do.

      • Jacobs1928

        July 29, 2017 at 1:50 pm

        My thoughts were to consider the potential if we traded our existing players of market
        Value to build a strong organization for the future. Rather then doing little to
        Get a possible wild card entry this year. Our market value players of this year are going
        To be of less market value next year… And even if we were to get in the playoffs our
        Pitching will not take us very far.

  18. Amazing

    July 27, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Starting pitching, a shortstop, and / or a 3rd baseman. In that order

    • Dan Connolly

      July 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      I’m with ya there.

  19. Amazing

    July 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I would definitely like to see that Orioles sell. The unfortunate part is I am not real sure this is the front office I want to see doing the deal. Please don’t get me wrong, because I absolutely love Buck Showalter but, history has shown that both Buck and Duquette are good enough to either compete or make it to the playoffs and that is it.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 28, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      That certainly is a common perception. We’ll see I suppose.

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