LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla – Up to this point, Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president, hasn’t wanted to trade a bullpen piece to strengthen his rotation.
But, after talking to him Monday evening, it was clear that he might have to do that to get a legitimate starter, especially with the free-agent market for second-tier arms drying up.
You could tell it was a painful realization for Duquette, but it’s probably an inevitable one. The Orioles don’t have many strengths. The bullpen is one.
They can probably deal away a reliever and still have an above-average relief corps.
The question is who would that reliever be?
The most obvious answer is Brad Brach, the club’s 31-year-old set-up man who saved 18 games as de facto closer in 2017 while Zach Britton was hurt.
Brach has plenty of value, is much cheaper than both Britton and Darren O’Day, and he’s seemingly healthier, too, with no trips to the DL last year. Plus, like Britton, he’s a free-agent after 2018. Since the Orioles are going to need a closer in 2019, trading Mychal Givens this offseason seems foolish.
But here’s another thing that seems foolish: Dealing Brach to the New York Mets for oft-injured right-hander Matt Harvey. The Orioles have discussed trading a reliever for Harvey, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. And the assumption, since the projected salaries are similar, is that Brach could be that guy.
Yes, Harvey’s potential is eye-popping. But he’s also a free agent after 2018 and he was limited to 19 games last season while posting an unsightly 6.70 ERA. He’s dealt with thoracic outlet syndrome and a shoulder weakness, and you just don’t know what Harvey, who turns 29 in March, can provide this season.
The flyball pitcher allowed 21 homers in 92 2/3 innings in 2017, and would be pitching half his games at Camden Yards, where a ball or two has been lost over the years.
I’m all for taking a flier on Harvey. And I understand that dealing Brach may be a necessity. But merging the two concepts doesn’t make sense to me.
If that’s what Harvey would cost the Orioles, then they are better off leaving him in New York, regardless of what he accomplished earlier in his career.
Martinez discusses Wieters
Dave Martinez, the new manager of the Washington Nationals, met with the media Monday, the first time since his introduction press conference. The former big leaguer and bench coach to Joe Maddon in Chicago and Tampa Bay discussed myriad Nats’ topics.
And that included catcher Matt Wieters, the former Oriole who hit a career-worst .225 in 123 games in his first year in DC. Martinez said he has already spoken to the 31-year Wieters and is hoping to get him a little more rest in 2018.
“We definitely have had conversations with him. What I do know is that our pitching staff loves to throw to him. He is a great communicator, leader. And I know he had some injuries that he dealt with last year a little bit and I’m looking forward to him being healthy and leading our pitching staff,” Martinez said. “And we’ve talked a lot about him being a little older and maybe getting some more days off just to keep him healthy throughout the whole year.”
Morris and Trammell make Hall
On Monday morning, the two newest members of the Hall of Fame were introduced to the media: pitcher Jack Morris and infielder Alan Trammell. They both were selected by the Modern Era committee after being passed over during the 15-year period of eligibility by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Full disclosure: I never voted for either. To me, they were members of the really, really good player group, but weren’t quite the next step. If I had had an unlimited ballot – and not 10 spots to jam everyone in – I may have thought about it differently.
Regardless, I couldn’t be more pleased for either.
Especially Morris, who was overcome with emotion several times during his press conference. He was one of the most intimidating pitchers to take the mound in the past 50 years, yet he was crying on Monday’s dais. That was cool to see, and was a reminder just how important that honor is to these guys.