This past weekend, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Orioles may be unwilling to add additional money to further improve the team this year, following the trade for Scott Feldman. Heyman suggests that any attempts to improve the team would come from players already within the organization, and that even Justin Morneau, and his $6 million left in salary would be too much money for the Orioles to handle. This would also mean that acquiring Chase Utley is not something the Orioles would likely pursue, seeing as he is owed a similar amount of money the rest of the season, and it makes my recent “Ode to Chase Utley” on Orioles Proving Ground obsolete (from an Orioles perspective anyway).
Even with the fiscal constraints that have recently come to light, there are several options on the DH trade market the Orioles could look into that would not only provide an upgrade, but would also come with a cheap price tag, both in dollars and prospects. The criteria for this list includes players from teams who are assumed to be selling at the deadline, provide an improvement for the Orioles at DH (currently sporting a triple slash line of .214/.265/.374), and will be owed $2 million (completely arbitrary) or less as of July 31. With that in mind, you will not be seeing Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, or the aforementioned Morneau. Each table shows the player’s estimated salary remaining on July 31, their statistics to date, and their projected statistics for the rest of the year, according to ZiPS at Fangraphs.
Lind is easily both the best and most unlikely option in this list. Not only is the option unlikely because Toronto and Baltimore play in the same division (intra-division trades are rare), but Lind is having a productive season on a team that may not be willing to sell at the deadline. Add that to the fact that Lind has very affordable club options through 2016 ($7 in 2014, $7.5 million in 2015, and $8 million in 2016), and the chances of Baltimore acquiring Lind are probably south of 1%.
These two players from the Seattle Mariners have shown up on a lot of lists for teams searching for cheap bats at the deadline. However, with so few impact bats openly available on the trade market this year, the price for either of these players may be higher than teams would like to pay. Additionally, according to Jon Heyman, the Mariners seem reluctant to trade any veteran pieces, fearing their young team will go into free fall, and as a result, hurt their development. If Baltimore could pry away one of these two, Morales is likely the better player moving forward (mainly due to the fact that he’s 11 years younger), though even the projected zero wins above replacement from Ibanez the rest of the year would still be considered an upgrade.
Byrd is another player who is being mentioned as a cheap bat at the deadline, with several teams reported as interested in trading for the Mets outfielder. Despite the productive year to date, it’s unsure whether Byrd can continue this level of production, as his slugging percentage is over 100 points higher than his career level, which is normally something that doesn’t happen to a player at the age of 35, who was also nearly out of baseball completely as recently as last year. In addition, it looks like the Mets will needto be overwhelmed to trade him.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Delmon Young. I don’t think he’s particularly good at baseball, and his on and off field issues are troubling at best. Having said that, he does meet the requirements for this list, so therefore he’s included. The Orioles should not go down this road.
Even with the two Mariners representing the best (realistic) options, it’s difficult to get excited about the list above, although any one would be an upgrade over the current cast of players the Orioles have used at designated hitter so far this year. However that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should make a trade for one of them, even if the cost is small. With a full week remaining before the trade deadline, Baltimore would be wise to see if they have in-house options that could provide an improvement at DH (again, not difficult to accomplish). They seem to be doing exactly that when they called up Henry Urrutia last Friday. If you’re not familiar with Urrutia, check out Joe’s write up on the Cuban import here on Camden Depot. With only a week before the deadline, the sample size for Urrutia will be small, so regardless of his results, it will be interesting to see how he handles major league pitching. If Urrutia can prove that he is not overmatched at the major league level, the Orioles may be able to increase the productivity at the DH position, without having to sacrifice minor league talent or increase payroll to do it.