The title gives away a little bit of the following role play between me and fellow Depot writer, Joe Reisel. The idea is to try to figure out how to improve the Orioles in a meaningful way through trade. Yes, the club is thin and has few assets, but it does have some pieces that are of interest to other teams. The following interchange has been lightly edited (Joe can yell at me if he sees fit).
Dan Duquette: Jed, baby, it is the Double D. Congratulations on getting the playoff spirit back in Wrigleyville. Not sure how you got Arrieta his groove back, but you are welcome. I noticed that you have been shaking the bushes for cost-controlled pitching as well as looking to lower payroll. While we do not have as impressive of budget capacity as you all do, we are able to take on some salary and you have a player that interests us: Jorge Soler.
His potential power and his...well, potential everything...is what we are looking for. We know you guys are frustrated with him and that he has yet to become the hitter you all thought he could be. We are willing to throw him out there over the next few years and see what shakes. You asked about Mike Wright last summer and we are willing now to deal him. You think we can do a Soler for Wright deal or center it around Wright?You might be asking two questions: why Soler? Why Wright? Those are fair questions. First, Jorge Soler's prospect sheen has been tarnished by unimpressive play and nagging injuries.
|2012||20||-0.7||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-Rk||149||5||12||19||.299||.369||.463|
|2014||22||-3.0||3 Teams||3 Lgs||AAA-AA-Rk||236||15||33||48||.340||.432||.700|
|MLB (2 seasons)||MLB||501||15||38||145||.268||.325||.433|
Those numbers alone appear as if there may be some grand next step waiting to happen, but they do not show how dreadful he was in the outfield. He certainly has value and is locked into a 5/23 MM contract.
Mike Wright? Yes, that is a low ball offer. Opposing scouts gave Wright rave reviews in the Spring and he produced in Norfolk. He certainly was a bigger chip in the early part of the 2015 season than he is now, but he is someone to wave around. One person told me in March that Wright was by far the most interesting pitching prospect the Orioles had and that he was on their radar. I do not know where he stands now. Certainly, the season has not been kind to Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
Jed Hoyer: We're not in a position to swap our projected starting right fielder for a high-risk, medium-reward gamble. You do remember that Soler will play 2016 as a 24-year-old and Wright will play 2016 as a 26-year-old, don't you? Yes, Soler's had injury problems, but he has both a higher floor and a higher ceiling than Wright.
We're in a position to win now. If we're going to deal Soler, we're going to need someone who's going to really make a difference. You have exactly one of those - Kevin Gausman. Gausman, like Soler, has tantalized with sporadic brilliance but hasn't been consistent. Both have legitimate chances at being key components of championship teams. Financially and in terms of team control, they're pretty much a wash.
Given your organization's position, I know you can't swallow a Soler-for-Gausman even-up trade. So, we're prepared to help you by giving you assets for your system. Jeimer Candelario would instantly become at least your second-best position player prospect and he's blocked here; we'll include him. We have two major-league-ready, hard-throwing right-handed relief pitcher candidates in Corey Black and Carl Edwards Jr.; we can't use both of them so take your pick. And we've got a number of good arms a long way from the majors; might you be interested in a Carson Sands?
So, my counter-proposal for Soler is Soler, Candelario, Black/Edwards, and Sands for Gausman.
If you're willing to wait awhile, we need to see who's going to play center field for us next year. If we do get someone, or perhaps more accurately if we know who'll be playing there next season, I might be interested in Wright for the right price - say, Arismendy Alcantara. Or, we could explore something entirely different ...Do not get me wrong, this is a fantastic deal. Candelario and Sands are solid prospects and I would think to be able to get both of them would be a major get for the Orioles. However, it concerns me that the net change here is an increase in money and the hole in right simply being pushed over to starting pitcher. If the Orioles were in a rebuilding mode, this would be an excellent deal to seek and I would not think twice about it. However, I need to find something more useful for the MLB club, so, regrettably I have to decline even though this deal looks great for the club long term.
DD: Understandable, we had to start somewhere and I thought Wright might be a good kernel to build upon. As you, we have discussed Gausman and he is not off limits. Losing him will put us in a tough position for 2016, but it is something to explore. However, your offer points toward a rebuild and we need more value now for us to compete today.
Soler costs a little bit and if we lose Gausman we need some savings in cost in order for us to be able to go out into the market and find a dependable backend rotation arm. As such, we need some cost defrayed. We also are aware that in the next few years that you have some big arbitration raises that you will need to deal with. What I will suggest might be a difficult loss, but I think it works for both of us.
We think the following makes sense: Soler and Starlin Castro for Gausman and J.J. Hardy. Yes, we all remember you all calling around to everyone this past summer about whether anyone was interested in Castro. We were not then, but we could be now. This deal will not only net you a potential top of the rotation pitcher, but you would be dealing out two, admit it, spare pieces for roughly 20 MM in long-term savings. We can handle that bump up in salary, but you may have some troubles with guys like Bryant breaking the arbitration bank.
Yes, you may be worried about Hardy. His shoulder is a mess, you have to check off on that. However, it is his non-throwing shoulder, so he still is a great fielder. His bat? It probably is no worse than what Castro did this season. If Kris Bryant's defense becomes a concern, you can push him into the outfield and have Hardy's defense soak up batted balls. Plus, if Hardy breaks down, you have Addison Russell waiting to move over. You get that flexibility, plus you get to turn Kevin Gausman into another pitching God.This was a direction I did not want to go in. Gausman is a cost controlled pitcher who is at worst an average pitcher and at best is a near ace. However, I feel more comfortable dealing him out if I can essentially use Hardy's salary to replace Hardy and fill left field. That is like finding another 13 MM in my pocket. Only issue I really see from the Cubs is whether they can spin Castro for a deal better than an effective salary dump in Hardy. Hardy is a pretty expensive defense minded utility man.
For us, we hopefully solve one of our corner outfield spots and settle on an infield. Yes, both Soler and Castro have question marks attached to them, but we like that we know how much they are going to cost and how it enables us to chase a decent arm for our rotation. Losing Gausman most certainly hurts, but this would be worth it to us.
Are we closer? Do you want to talk Kyle Schwarber for Gausman straight up?
JH: When I first saw your proposal, I was not positively disposed. Not only were we giving up two of our most valuable tradable assets for an unproven pitcher, we would be taking on $40 million in dead money over the next three years. Upon further review, I think this trade might work for us.
Let me start by describing the worst-case scenario for us, excluding serious injury. Kevin Gausman doesn't develop; J.J. Hardy becomes the infield equivalent of Edwin Jackson, and Jorge Soler becomes Nelson Cruz. (We're not ready to right Starlin Castro off, but we won't regret trading him in this deal even if does find himself.) The big disadvantage of this might be the money; we lose our flexibility to fill our holes in the future. We'd be entering 2016 without a center fielder if Fowler leaves, and also without a right fielder. But further reflection leads me to conclude that this deal is certainly worth bringing to my bosses.
Let's look at the money. Hardy's 2018 option becomes guaranteed after this trade, so we're on the hook for $40 million over the next three seasons. Over that time, we'd be paying Castro about $28.5 million. I believe that Gausman is arbitration-eligible after 2016; I don't have any real idea what he'll earn in arbitration but let's assume it'd be a total of $25 million over 2017 and 2018. So, essentially, we'd get Gausman for three years and roughly $40 million. Comparing that to the probable $60 million it'd cost to add a Jordan Zimmermann, Gausman could be a bargain. We should be able to fill our center-field hole for the difference.
Of course, with Addison Russell inked in at shortstop, Hardy won't play there. We'll be hoping he can play second base, which would allow us to move either Kris Bryant or (more likely) Javier Baez to Soler's corner outfield spot. If Hardy fails there, we'll have to scramble or hope Chris Coghlan is for real.
But the upshot is that Gausman and Hardy for Castro and Soler is a deal worth considering, and one I'll definitely mention to Theo and Tom.So we wound up on the following deal:
Baltimore Orioles receive RF Jorge Soler and SS Starlin Castro
Chicago Cubs receive SP Kevin Gausman and SS J.J. Hardy
From my view (and I think Joe's), this seemed like something slightly in the Orioles favor because Hardy is in no way worth 3/40 and to what extent does Gausman's value make up or surpass that? To get some idea, I asked someone in the industry what they thought and he responded, "That is generally not a crazy deal. Hardy is worthless to them, but Gausman is a big prize and saves them a great deal of room in their roster. I would want to shop Castro around to others to see what I could get for him, but this would be something I would keep in my back pocket. For the Cubs, I'd probably downgrade the talks and focus on something like Soler for Zach Britton. That should work for both sides. If I was the Orioles, only way I would want to deal Gausman would be if Kyle Schwarber was coming back."
I sent a poll out while we were doing this for you all to answer on Twitter. The terms in the poll are less favorable with the 3MM difference for 2016 tossed in. Still, you all were slightly in agreement to make the deal.
What would you prefer?— Camden Depot (@CamdenDepot) November 14, 2015