The Orioles acquired right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Triple-A Norfolk infielder César Prieto, Norfolk left-hander Drew Rom and Single-A Delmarva right-hander Zack Showalter.
Flaherty, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, was 7-6 with a 4.33 earned-run average in 20 starts for St. Louis. He also is 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA in four postseason starts with the Cardinals in 2019 and 2020. In seven seasons with St. Louis, Flaherty was 41-31 with a 2.58 ERA.
“A very accomplished, very talented starting pitcher that bolsters our rotation and our pitching staff as a whole down the stretch,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said in a video conference call on Tuesday evening. “We’re very pleased this is where we landed, a player that we were targeting, a deal that we liked that made sense for both teams. The big takeaway for me is that Jack’s got a lot of great experience in a great organization. He’s a very athletic pitcher with four quality pitches.”
Flaherty, 27, and Kyle Gibson, 35, are the only two starters with postseason experience, and he joins a rotation that includes Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez.
“We need help with the innings load down the stretch,” Elias said. “We’ve got a lot of young starters that haven’t done this before. We’ve got members of our relief corps that are injured, tired, so we were looking for pitching help in all shapes and sizes.”
The deal wasn’t completed until just minutes before the 6 p.m. Tuesday deadline.
“It was a very challenging market,” Elias said. “It seemed like the landscape in the standings and the rules in place with the extra wild card combined to create a very small number of selling teams, and I’m happy that we were able to make what I view as a quality trade and a good acquisition and somebody that checks off a need for us going down the stretch.”
The Orioles were linked with Justin Verlander, who was traded from the New York Mets to Houston, Michael Lorenzen, who went from Detroit to Philadelphia, and others.
“We got very close to some things. We took some very big swings,” Elias said. “Some things came close … He was one of the pitchers that from the very get-go of our planning, we circled as a fit. We weren’t sure that St. Louis was going to sell. They made the decision to do that about a week ago. They had a few guys that we were talking to them … but glad this worked out.”
The Orioles weren’t able to make a deal for a reliever, but were close, Elias said.
“Even as we got the Flaherty trade done in the last couple of minutes, we still had an appetite to bring in relief depth or relief options,” he said. “It just didn’t happen. We’ve had some spots in the bullpen in flux, but we’ve got some guys getting healthy. We’ve got some players coming up through the system and bringing in an extra starter, you can always spill over into the bullpen to help with those innings. I think now we have several legitimate accomplished major league pitchers, all of whom were having good years right now.”
Cole Irvin and Tyler Wells, who was sent to Double-A Bowie on Saturday after three bad starts, could be used as starters or relievers.
“We think this team has what it takes to go deep, and this bolsters us,” Elias said. “It gives us a lot of security and a boost to the rotation down the stretch.”
Rom was 7-6 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 games for Norfolk. Prieto, a Cuban defector who signed in early 2022, hit .349 with six home runs and 49 RBIs in 85 games for Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. Showalter was 0-2 with a 2.37 ERA in nine games in the Florida Complex League and Single-A Delmarva.
“I’m sure that these players will go on to have very fruitful careers,” Elias said. “2023 is a priority. My job is balancing that priority against the future and not doing an exchange that we will overly regret or be unwise. I think this landed in the right spot in that regard.”
Flaherty last pitched on July 26th, and Elias didn’t know when he would join the team and start.
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