The Orioles also need an upgrade at second base, or at least need to receive better production in 2015 from their second baseman, Jonathan Schoop (or Everth Cabrera, Ryan Flaherty, and/or someone else). The most likely scenario is that Schoop gets the nod as the opening day starter, and then the O's go from there depending on how he performs. But with so many impending free agents, the O's are also in a win-now mode of sorts and could be looking at a very different roster in 2016 and beyond. That doesn't mean the Orioles should haphazardly sacrifice all or most of the future to compete in 2015, and by letting Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Andrew Miller walk, refusing to spend big on any free agents, and rebuffing all Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy trade inquiries, they obviously aren't doing that. But a repeat American League East crown is surely within reach, and every little bit helps.
So would it be worth parting with Schoop, an unknown quantity offensively, to get more of an assured upgrade this season?
Out of left field trade idea: Daniel Murphy for Brian Matusz and Jonathan Schoop?I don't think many fans would have a real issue parting with Matusz. He's certainly an effective LOOGY, but he'll make $3.2 million this season in his third year of arbitration, and as a Super Two player (meaning he has four arbitration-eligible years), will make a bit more next year as well. That's a lot to pay a situational reliever, and that money could be better allocated elsewhere, especially since the O's recently signed a left-handed specialist in Wesley Wright and also have T.J. McFarland and possibly Tim Berry as relief options. (Zach Britton, the closer, is left handed as well.)
— Jon Shepherd (@jsbearr) March 16, 2015
So, really, this conceivable though unlikely trade hinges on Daniel Murphy (who the O's and Dan Duquette have checked in on in the past) vs. Schoop. Murphy, 29, is in his last year of arbitration (he'll make $8 million) and will be a free agent after this season. Schoop, meanwhile, is only 23 and is under team control through 2019. In one full season of work, Schoop impressed defensively but was terrible offensively (67 wRC+). He should be better next season, but young players don't magically get better just because they have more experience. And how much of a leap will he make? Murphy, though, grades out worse defensively but is a clear improvement offensively (108 wRC+).
|162 Game Avg.||162||646||598||10||12||.290||.333||.419||.752||109|
Realistically, Murphy will be better than Schoop in 2015. But then he'd likely depart. So the real question is: How good do you think Schoop can be? If you think he can progress enough offensively to league average or close to it, while also performing well defensively, then it makes sense to hold onto him. But if you think he'll keep swinging at everything in sight while not walking and maintaining an on-base percentage around .270, then it would be easier to deal him. And depending on what the O's do this upcoming offseason, Schoop's ongoing development may come during a time when there's a diminished chance to compete.
I don't think Murphy is enough of an upgrade to consider trading away Schoop. I also think Schoop still possesses a decent amount of upside with the bat and could quickly become a building block. Showalter clearly values defense, and Schoop has the advantage in that department. In all likelihood, the O's won't be dealing Schoop, and the Mets might prefer to hold onto Murphy anyway. Maybe the Orioles could simply trade Matusz for Logan Verrett, who was a recent Rule 5 pick from the Mets, for roster flexibility purposes. That wouldn't be nearly as much of a gamble.