A look at the Orioles' most significant trades with each franchise, Part 1: National League - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Paul Folkemer

A look at the Orioles’ most significant trades with each franchise, Part 1: National League

Photo credit: Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

The Orioles — in case you haven’t heard — officially kicked off their rebuilding phase with trades of Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach.

The Britton deal with the New York Yankees was particularly notable because it was the first in-season, player-for-player trade between the two divisional rivals in nearly 30 years.

With more Orioles’ trades possibly on the way this week, and perhaps into August, now’s as good a time as any to examine the club’s trade history with the 29 other MLB clubs. Which teams are frequent trade partners with the Orioles? Which do they tend to avoid? And which are the best — and worst — deals the Orioles have made with each team?

For the purposes of this story, I’m only considering player-for-player trades. So deals involving a player being exchanged for cash or (as in Brach’s case) international signing bonus slot money don’t count.

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I’ll cover the National League in this post, with teams listed alphabetically. Part 2, coming next week, will cover the American League.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Trades: 4

Most recent: Aug. 31, 2016 (Jason Heinrich for Michael Bourn)

Notable trade(s): The Diamondbacks have only existed since 1998, so it’s no surprise they have a scant trade history with the Orioles. But they have a knack for helping the Orioles in the postseason hunt. Their first trade, in Dec. 2010, sent the Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds, who helped power Baltimore to a wild card berth in 2012. That year, the Orioles also acquired Arizona’s Joe Saunders, who memorably bested Texas’ Yu Darvish in the Wild Card Game. And in 2016, Bourn provided a spark defensively and on the basepaths for the playoff-bound Orioles.

Atlanta Braves (previously Milwaukee Braves)

Trades: 10

Most recent: May 23, 2016 (Brian Matusz for Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek)

Notable trade(s): The first trade between these two clubs happened in Feb. 1954, just months after the St. Louis Browns had moved to Baltimore and before they officially played their first game as the Orioles. They acquired right-hander Vern Bickford from the then-Milwaukee Braves. Still, the two clubs have mostly avoided each other since, making only 10 deals in more than 60 years (again, I’m not including the just-completed Brach trade, because it wasn’t a player-for-player deal).

Considering how poorly the Orioles’ deals with the Braves have turned out, it’s probably for the best that they haven’t traded much. In 1972, the Orioles traded three-time All-Star second baseman Davey Johnson, former 20-game winner Pat Dobson and others to the Braves for slugging catcher Earl Williams. The deal was a dud. Williams’ numbers declined and he butted heads with Orioles’ teammates and coaches, getting traded back to the Braves two years later. Meanwhile, Johnson erupted for a 43-homer season in his first year with Atlanta.

In 2000, during the Orioles’ poorly executed fire sale, they traded fan favorite B.J. Surhoff to the Braves at the July 31 deadline. A stunned Surhoff, whose family was entrenched in the Baltimore community, broke into tears at his press conference. The Orioles got a piddling return for him: 36-year-old outfielder Trenidad Hubbard, light-hitting backup catcher Fernando Lunar and pitching prospect Luis Rivera, who made just once appearance for Baltimore before injuries ended his career.

Chicago Cubs

Trades: 13

Most recent: July 31, 2015 (Tommy Hunter for Junior Lake)

Notable trade(s): The Orioles and Cubs have been frequent collaborators in the last decade-plus, making eight trades since 2005. The first of those was the deal that sent former Cubs’ superstar Sammy Sosa to the Orioles in the twilight of his career. Sosa stumbled to one unproductive season in Baltimore while two of the players the Orioles dealt for him, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mike Fontenot, combined to play for 16 seasons after that.

But of course, the most infamous trade between the two clubs was the 2013 swap that sent two failing Orioles’ pitchers, Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. The rest was history. Arrieta, reborn under a new organization and coaching staff, emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball and won the NL Cy Young in 2015. Strop became a pillar in the Cubs’ bullpen and still is today. Arrieta and Strop combined for a 26.4 WAR (and counting) for the Cubs, while Feldman and Clevenger amassed a total of 0.9 in Baltimore.

Cincinnati Reds

Trades: 13

Most recent: Dec. 9, 2008 (Ramon Hernandez for Ryan Freel, Justin Turner and Brandon Waring)

Notable trade(s): Come on, do you really need me to tell you the Orioles’ most significant trade with the Reds? Hint: it wasn’t Whitey Lockman for Walt Dropo.

The Orioles won their first two World Series titles, and forever changed the shape of their franchise, thanks to Cincinnati’s generosity. In 1965, Reds owner Bill DeWitt shockingly traded his superstar outfielder, Frank Robinson, who already had an MVP award, Rookie of the Year and six All-Star appearances under his belt. DeWitt hadn’t always seen eye to eye with his star and was convinced Robinson’s best days were behind him, saying he was “not a young 30.” The Orioles gladly took Robinson off the Reds’ hands, sending them starting pitcher Milt Pappas and two players they’d just acquired that winter.

The rest was history. Robinson transformed a good Orioles team into a great one, winning the AL MVP and Triple Crown in his first year in Baltimore with a .316 average, 49 homers and 122 RBIs, then being named World Series MVP as the club swept the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 1966 championship. Robinson also emerged as a vocal leader on the field and in the clubhouse during his six-year stint with the Orioles, and helped them to their second World Series win in 1970.

Robinson is one of six Orioles to be immortalized in the Orioles Legends statue park at Camden Yards, but the only one that the club originally acquired via trade. His acquisition still stands as the best trade in Orioles history. Thanks again, Reds.

Colorado Rockies

Trades: 6

Most recent: April 7, 2017 (Jon Keller for Miguel Castro)

Notable trade(s): Dan Duquette, in his first major trade after taking over as Orioles’ executive vice president of baseball operations, traded Jeremy Guthrie — the club’s de facto ace for four straight years — to the Rockies in Feb. 2012.

The trade wasn’t well received in Baltimore at the time, but it paid big dividends. Righty Jason Hammel, acquired in the deal, more than made up for Guthrie’s loss, posting a 3.43 ERA in 2012 (though injuries limited him to 20 starts), and righty reliever Matt Lindstrom, the other piece of the trade, pitched well out of the Orioles’ bullpen. Meanwhile, Guthrie imploded in the thin air of Colorado and didn’t last the season with the Rockies, though he later revived his career in Kansas City.

Los Angeles Dodgers (prev. Brooklyn Dodgers)

Trades: 18

Most recent: July 18, 2018 (Manny Machado for Yusniel Diaz, Rylan Bannon, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera)

Notable trade(s): The Dodgers were the Orioles’ most frequent NL trading partners even before this month’s Machado blockbuster, the 18th swap between the two clubs. Whenever the Orioles end up trading a superstar, it seems the Dodgers are usually the lucky recipient.

Long before the Machado deal, two Orioles legends were traded to the Dodgers, 17 years and two days apart. On Dec. 2, 1971, the Orioles bid farewell to Frank Robinson after his incredible six-year stretch with the team, sending him to Los Angeles for a four-player package that included 21-year-old righty Doyle Alexander. Alexander was an Orioles’ swingman for a few years before being packaged in a huge trade with the New York Yankees in 1976 (which I’ll cover in my next piece), but the other three players didn’t amount to anything. Robinson spent just one mediocre year with the Dodgers before they dealt him away.

On Dec. 4, 1988, the Orioles made one of their most regrettable deals. Eddie Murray, their homegrown Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover who’d had seven top-10 finishes in the AL MVP voting, found himself on the outs in Baltimore. He’d had some clashes with Orioles’ ownership and alienated members of the media. The club dealt him to the Dodgers for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell, who combined for a -1.6 WAR in an Orioles uniform. It was a disastrous return for a man who was on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Not every trade with the Dodgers has been a loser, though. The Orioles acquired slugger Jim Gentile from Los Angeles before the 1960 season. “Diamond Jim” was an All-Star in three of his four seasons in Baltimore, sharing the 1961 AL RBI lead with 141.

Miami Marlins (prev. Florida Marlins)

Trades: 5

Most recent: July 31, 2010 (Will Ohman for Rick van den Hurk)

Notable trade(s): With only five trades between these two teams, finding a significant deal is slim pickings. The biggest contributor the Orioles ever acquired from the Marlins was infielder Robert Andino, who played in Baltimore from 2009-2012 and amassed a 3.1 WAR. Andino was the Orioles’ regular second baseman on their 2012 wild card team, but he’s perhaps best known for taking down the Boston Red Sox with a game-winning single on the thrilling final day of the 2011 season, knocking the Sox out of playoff contention.

Milwaukee Brewers (prev. Seattle Pilots)

Trades: 13

Most recent: July 31, 2015 (Zach Davies for Gerardo Parra)

Notable trade(s): It’s a bit misleading to list the Brewers as an NL team. That’s the league they’ve been in since 1998, but they made nine of their 13 trades with the Orioles when they were members of the American League (including two during their lone season as the Seattle Pilots in 1969).

None of the trades have been particularly memorable, but the most recent one — Davies for Parra — stands out as a poor decision by the Orioles. The Orioles, looking for a solution to their season-long right field problem, acquired Parra, who was having a career year in Milwaukee. They sent Davies, one of their top pitching prospects, in return. Parra dropped off a table both offensively and defensively with the Orioles, while Davies emerged as a solid starter for the Brewers, winning 17 games in 2017. That’s one deal the Orioles wish they could have back.

New York Mets

Trades: 14

Most recent: Jan. 22, 2006 (Jorge Julio and John Maine for Kris Benson)

Notable trade(s): The expansion 1962 Mets made a swap with the Orioles in May, acquiring Marv Throneberry for Hobie Landrith — and then didn’t make another player-for-player trade with Baltimore for 24 years. The two clubs have been more active trade partners since the mid-1980s, though. The Orioles made a big move at the trade deadline in 1995, acquiring Mets’ slugger Bobby Bonilla for prospects.

The best deal for Baltimore, though, occurred during their otherwise botched 2000 fire sale. The Orioles traded pending free agent shortstop Mike Bordick to the playoff-bound Mets and received four players, including 28-year-old utility man Melvin Mora. Mora defied the odds and broke through as a solid everyday player for the Orioles for nearly a decade, including two All-Star seasons. Oh, and the Orioles re-signed Bordick as a free agent after the 2000 season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Trades: 16

Most recent: July 28, 2017 (Hyun Soo Kim and Garrett Cleavinger for Jeremy Hellickson)

Notable trade(s): The Orioles can credit the Phillies for helping them with the previously mentioned acquisition of Frank Robinson. On Dec. 6, 1965, the Phillies sent righty reliever Jack Baldschun to Baltimore for former Orioles’ All-Star Jackie Brandt. Three days later, the Orioles included Baldschun in their blockbuster deal with the Reds for Robinson.

More than 30 years later, in 1996, the Orioles turned to the Phillies at the end of August as they made a push for the AL wild card spot. Veteran infielder Todd Zeile and outfielder Pete Incaviglia joined the Orioles for a pair of pitching prospects, and both were reasonably productive down the stretch as the Orioles clinched a playoff berth for the first time in 13 years. Zeile, though, committed four errors in the playoffs, including a costly miscue against the Yankees that plated the go-ahead run in ALCS Game 3.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Trades: 13

Most recent: Aug. 31, 2016 (Zach Phillips for Kyle Lobstein)

Notable trade(s): That Phillips-for-Lobstein deal is symbolic of just how useless most of the trades between the Orioles and Pirates have been. The majority of their swaps have involved nondescript minor leaguers or unremarkable role players. (Yamaico Navarro? Russ Canzler? Mike Smith?)

A recent swap between the two teams has turned out poorly for the Orioles. In 2015, after Nick Markakis left in free agency, Duquette sought to fill his void in right field by acquiring Travis Snider from Pittsburgh. Snider didn’t last the season, with the Orioles cutting him loose after he batted .237 with a .659 OPS in 69 games. Of the two young pitchers the Orioles gave up for Snider, one (Steven Brault) is now in the Pirates’ bullpen, while the other (Stephen Tarpley) is having success in the Yankees’ organization.

San Diego Padres

Trades: 15

Most recent: Feb. 4, 2016 (Jean Cosme for Odrisamer Despaigne)

Notable trade(s): The Orioles haven’t made any earth-shattering deals with the Padres, but they’ve collected a number of useful players over the years. Perhaps the most prominent is Pat Dobson, who was dealt from San Diego to Baltimore before the 1971 season and became one of the Orioles’ four 20-game winners that year.

In 2013, Duquette pulled off a coup when he dealt minor leaguer Devin Jones to the Padres for Brad Brach, a trade that attracted little attention at the time but paid off handsomely. Brach was a mainstay in the Orioles’ bullpen from 2014-2018, posting a 2.99 ERA and 32 saves in 288 games and making the All-Star team in 2016.

San Francisco Giants (prev. New York Giants)

Trades: 10

Most recent: Dec. 6, 2005 (Steve Kline for LaTroy Hawkins)

Notable trade(s): One member of the Orioles Hall of Fame was acquired from the Giants: righty reliever Stu Miller, who came to Baltimore in a six-player trade in Dec. 1962. Miller became a key reliever for the Orioles for the next five years, racking up 99 saves (fifth most in franchise history) and a 2.37 ERA and finishing in the top 20 of the AL MVP vote three times.

The Giants also sent the Orioles outfielder Jackie Brandt, who had six solid seasons in Baltimore before being traded to the Phillies for Jack Baldschun, who in turn was dealt to the Reds in the Frank Robinson deal. Somehow, it always comes back to Frank Robinson.

St. Louis Cardinals

Trades: 8

Most recent: July 31, 2000 (Will Clark for Jose Leon)

Notable trade(s): For whatever reason, the Orioles and Cardinals are practically strangers on the trade market. They’ve never made more than two swaps in any decade, and none in the 1990s. And after making two deals in a three-day span in 2000 (acquiring Mike Timlin and then Clark), the Cardinals haven’t traded with the Orioles since. While Baltimore has sent the Cardinals some good players — including former Most Valuable Oriole Bob Nieman in 1959 and popular reliever Moe Drabowsky in 1970 — the O’s have never acquired a player from St. Louis who amassed better than a 2.6 WAR in orange and black.

Washington Nationals (prev. Montreal Expos)

Trades: 12

Most recent: Dec. 22, 2000 (Ryan Minor for Jorge Julio)

Notable trade(s): Since the Expos moved to D.C. in 2005, becoming the Nationals, the Orioles have wanted no part of them in trade talks. In its Montreal days, though, the franchise made quite a few deals with Baltimore, including a 1977 swap that sent platoon outfielder (and Orioles Hall of Famer) Gary Roenicke and closer Don Stanhouse to Baltimore.

One trade was particularly lopsided in favor of the Orioles. In Dec. 1974, the Orioles dealt longtime rotation stalwart Dave McNally, a four-time 20-game winner, to the Expos for outfielder Ken Singleton and righty Mike Torrez. Although trading away McNally — the winningest pitcher in franchise history at the time — was risky, the Orioles cashed in. Singleton settled in as a middle-of-the-order thumper for Baltimore, batting .284 with an .833 OPS, 182 homers and 766 RBIs in 10 seasons with the Orioles. Torrez was a 20-game winner in his only season with the club.

Meanwhile, McNally made just 12 starts for the Expos before announcing his retirement, though he later made off-the-field news by challenging MLB’s reserve clause in court, paving the way for free agency in baseball.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. TxBirdFan

    July 31, 2018 at 12:02 am

    Paul – congratulations on a really cool topic and write up! I’m amazed at the number of pure busts but also by the number of trades that turned out pretty well. It just shows you how difficult trades really are. Feast or famine!

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