The trouble is offense. Below is the performance of every team's collection of second basemen using runs created.
As you can see, the Orioles ranked 26th in baseball. Also troubling are the other teams listed. Oakland (best record in baseball), St. Louis (currently in the second Wild Card position in the NL), Atlanta (half game out of the NL East), and San Francisco (first in the NL West) also have employed miserable efforts at the plate from their second basemen. In other words, if the Orioles are looking to beef up their efforts at second via trade then they will likely be competing with several other clubs for that position.
This means that the team will likely have to spend considerably in order to bring back value. For a club like the Orioles, the piece coming should not only be important to this season, but also in the seasons to come. With that in mind, an impending free agent like Emilio Bonifacio is not where the team should be looking. Rather, the club should be looking at someone who is likely to have a future with the club and makes sense position-wise. The player is Nick Franklin.
You may be familiar with Franklin as the guy who lost out when the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to fill second base and Brad Miller dominated at the plate while holding down shortstop. This season, he has had two cups of coffee that went rather horribly as a supersub, but has cleaned up in the minors (293/400/483). Add that to his league average bat in 2013 along with a solid glove at second and Franklin looks like a decent bet to have value now, but also in the long term. Additionally, it would give Schoop more playing time in Norfolk where his skill set needs some positive reinforcement.
The long term makes sense to keep in mind. Perhaps there is an outside chance that J.J. Hardy is an Oriole next year, but I doubt it. That would mean the long awaited shift to shortstop for Manny and Jonathan Schoop sliding over to his more probable position in the future, third base. Plus, Franklin is flexible enough that if Manny has issues moving over to his natural position then Franklin can cover there. All in all, acquiring this 23 year old middle infielder who has been a top prospect and was a good starter last year would appear to be a great move.
Of course, such a quality piece is likely to cost a great deal. The Mariners are right in the hunt for the second Wild Card and are buyers. On first thought, this seems like an unlikely team to befriend as a trade partner. However, the Orioles have something the Mariners want: pitching depth. No, that is not a joke. The Orioles are currently employing a six man rotation. That excess in starters means that decent, cheaper portions of that rotation may be able to be converted into a piece that might have greater use to the club.
Although it might be nice to send off Ubalado Jimenez for a second baseman, that will not happen. It is also unlikely that Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman are going anywhere. Finally, Bud Norris is pulling rabbits out of hats, so the Orioles are likely unwilling to deal him either. That leaves cost controlled Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen who has a great contract. MiGo has three arbitration years left. Chen has an option year next year that is under 5 MM and then has an agreement in place where he cannot be extended a qualifying offer (as I understand it).
From the Orioles' perspective, the preferable move would be to package a deal around MiGo and Franklin, but be willing to listen to Chen instead. The Mariners would likely prefer Chen and his now value as opposed to MiGo's potential and cost controlled salaries over the next several years. In terms of expected value, MiGo is worth about 20 MM in surplus money over the next 3.5 years. Chen is worth about 20 MM over the course of the next 1.5 years. These values are based on the assumptions that MiGo is worth about two wins per year and Chen is worth three.
Franklin looks to be worth about 30 in surplus value if he becomes a league average second baseman. With Chen and his immediate value, that is probably a straight one for one deal. With MiGo, the Orioles might have to sweeten the pot slightly. The Mariners also have a weakness in the outfield on the right side. Steve Pearce seems like an obvious fit for them even though they passed him over before when he went through waivers. Maybe they believe in Delmon Young. Or, just maybe, they would look to add to the lefties in their bullpen with someone like Brian Matusz.
Beyond that, I would question that the Mariners would be interested in lower level fringe prospects that have decent prospect value, but no playoff push value. Likewise, the Orioles would be hard-pressed to give up anything outside of a starting pitcher or a bullpen arm as they are on their own playoff journey.