We’re halfway through August and Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president, hasn’t made a trade yet.
It’s a shocking development.
OK, so I’m only half-joking. It would be a shocking development if it were Aug. 31 and he hadn’t made another trade. In other words, there is still time for the seemingly inevitable.
If Duquette isn’t the king of the August swap, he certainly is a member of the royal court. In his previous five seasons with the Orioles, he has made six trades after the traditional non-waiver trade deadline July 31.
A few of them have helped the Orioles – Joe Saunders was a contributor in 2012 as was Alejandro De Aza in 2014 and Michael Bourn last year. None of Duquette’s August deals has hurt the Orioles long term. (The ones you’re ticked about happened in bygone Julys. You can look at a grading of many of Duquette’s deals in this previous story.)
The players Duquette has shipped out of town in past Augusts have been largely forgettable. Where have you gone Jason Heinrich, Xavier Avery and Mark Blackmar?
It’s the nature of August deals. Usually only veteran players with bloated or expiring contracts get through waivers and usually the return are minor leaguers not on the 40-man roster (those guys don’t have to pass through waivers to be dealt in August).
Almost exclusively these are under-the-radar, afterthought moves. Which, as we know, is Duquette’s wheelhouse, operating on the margins.
Both of Duquette’s deals this July fit into that same category, and received a collective ho-hum from me and much of the fan base, Of course, acquiring shortstop Tim Beckham looks so far like a stroke of Duquette genius, and Jeremy Hellickson has been solid in two of his three starts.
And, so, I suppose it’s no harm, no foul if Duquette makes another deal this month to acquire a player that can be eligible for a potential playoff roster (trades can be made in September, too, but the players acquired in those can’t appear in the postseason). And I do expect it to happen (so does Rich Dubroff, Orioles writer for pressboxonline.com. He was my guest on my weekly WOYK radio show, which can be heard here.)
I look at it this way: If the Orioles need anything for the stretch run it is better starting pitching. But true upgrades won’t be found at this time – anyone who can really alter a pennant race will be claimed/blocked during the waiver-trade process.
What’s left on the market are starters similar to what the Orioles already have in the back-end of their rotation: veteran pitchers who are enigmas from outing to outing.
Two names that are unquestionably available are current members of the Chicago White Sox, who seem contractually obligated to make a trade each week. Veteran lefty Derek Holland (6-12, 5.68 ERA) and old friend Miguel Gonzalez (6-10, 4.85 ERA) are both free agents at season’s end and likely won’t be returning to a rebuilding White Sox club.
The Orioles have always had a little interest in Holland, and we all know Gonzalez’s track record against the AL East. But you have to wonder where they would fit, who they are better than, what corresponding moves make sense (either 25-man and/or 40-man depending on when a trade occurs)?
And, ultimately, what do the Orioles give up for such a late addition? Again, Duquette has been good about not getting burned in August, but I’m not sure how long he can avoid that flame given some of his castoffs in July.
Plus, the Orioles will be getting some players back from the disabled list soon that will cause a 25-man roster jam, and then there are reinforcements – at least from a depth standpoint – available when active rosters expand in September.
I guess my point is I see no need for another middling starting pitcher when the club already has a bouquet of them. Get a real upgrade? Sure. But I don’t see that happening given what’s reportedly – or historically – available this month.
That’s not going to matter to Duquette, I’d imagine. He’ll make a deal in August. That’s what he does.