14 November 2013

Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy Are Available, Unless They Aren't

Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy
(Photo via Keith Allison)
There were two items of note regarding the Orioles yesterday. In case you missed them:
Later in the day, Eduardo Encina poured cold water on those hot stove rumors:
Unsurprisingly, Dan Duquette also denied the rumors: "We like our core players. And it doesn't surprise me that clubs would be interested in Hardy and Wieters. They're good players. A lot of it is speculation. That's the way it goes this time of the offseason. J.J. Hardy is coming off a terrific year." Specifically referring to the Hardy rumors, Duquette added: "If somebody reported that [he's being shopped], that's not true. Are there other clubs that are interested in J.J. Hardy? Who wouldn't be interested in a shortstop that just won the Gold Glove and captured the Silver Slugger?"

Yes, why won't anybody think of the Silver Slugger?

Hardy and Wieters are both solid players. And they are also popular players, for the most part. But they are not untouchable; few players are. Besides, fans shouldn't believe anything coaches or general managers say, especially when it comes to potential trades. Duquette has no obligation to tell the truth right now. His job is to make the Orioles better. Maybe he's being honest about these trade rumors. Or maybe he's being sneaky and trying to bait teams into increasing their potential offers on two good but not great players.

Thanks to an improved year power-wise, Hardy (.263/.306/.433) hit better than the MLB average shortstop (.254/.308/.367); plus, he was again very good defensively. But he's in the last year of his three-year, $22.25 million deal (due $7 million in 2014), and he's going to be looking to cash in on another multiyear contract, whether that's with the Orioles or not. If the Orioles keep Hardy throughout the season and extend him a qualifying offer, they would gain a compensatory draft pick if he declines the offer (which he should) and opts to sign elsewhere. But if they are in fact not going to extend him, it might make more sense to deal him now. That depends, of course, on what the O's are targeting in a trade -- future pieces, players to help them now, or a mix of both. I guess the 23-year-old Miller qualifies as both, since he's good now and under team control for five more seasons.

Wieters (.235/.287/.417), who has been covered extensively on this site, hit slightly worse than the average MLB catcher (.245/.310/.388), but was again solid defensively (at least per FanGraphs' defensive metrics). He is under team control for two more seasons, but he's expected to see his salary increase from $5.5 million to somewhere between $7 and $8 million next season, and then somewhat higher in 2015. His defense may make it easier to live with his salary, but it's hard to defend a .287 on-base percentage.

I think we can all agree that Wieters and Hardy have been key parts in the Orioles' turnaround these past two seasons. And, despite the rumors, I doubt the Orioles will actually trade them this offseason. But shopping them makes sense, even if it's just to gauge the interest of other teams. There are smart reasons to both trade and not trade either player, but if the Orioles decide not to trade one or the other, hopefully it's not because of things like Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, and errorless streaks and fielding percentage.


Jon cooked up an interesting trade offer yesterday. Take a look:
My initial reaction was that I probably would, but I'm not so sure after thinking about it for a while. Hardy and Schoop probably aren't enough to get Miller, but Rodriguez's inclusion might be a deal-breaker.

Anyway, what say you, Orioles fan?


Unknown said...

And why are the Cardinals willing to trade Shelby Miller? He is not anywhere near free agency - correct?

Pitching is such an important commodity, I wonder if there are issues w/ him that we do not see.

No, I would not trade our 3 for Miller. This could potentially be an Eric Bedard in reverse.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Erik Bedard was traded in 2008. In 2007, Adam Jones was ranked 28th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list. In 2008, Chris Tillman was ranked 67th. The O's were also able to get some use out of George Sherrill for a while, and then flip him for Josh Bell (who didn't pan out) and Steve Johnson (who has been OK, but he's often injured). Kam Mickolio wasn't effective and wasn't in the majors very long, and Tony Butler never made it out of the minors. That's a ton of value.

In 2012, Schoop was ranked 82nd on Baseball America's top 100 list. He wasn't on the list in 2013 (neither was Rodriguez). Rodriguez figures to be on the list in 2014, but who knows how high.

Baseball America is just one source, and it doesn't mean everything. But I think sometimes guys like Schoop get overrated. I am more excited about Rodriguez, however.

h2h Corner said...

I absolutely do that deal. Hardy is replaceable. Schoop is no sure thing, ditto for Rodriguez. Miller seems to be much more of a sure thing and much more of a high-ceiling prospect. So, he has a higher floor and higher ceiling. I just dont think (and the Orioles certainly havent) the type of prospect Miller is comes around often...

Jon Shepherd said...

The general feeling here reminds me of the desire to keep homegrown players and perhaps the overvaluing of them. Back in the mid-90s, the Orioles had a shot of acquiring Shawn Green for Jeffrey Hammonds and change. Allegedly, Angelos refused because he valued a talent that could be called homegrown. That led to the team acquiring Albert Belle a couple years later and Hammonds leaving in exchange for Willie Greene.

So, Schoop, Hardy, Rodriguez...probably are not worth what a lot of local O's fans think.

Greg F. said...

I don't think this team has enough to compete long-term with the Rays or Red Sox. My worst fear is that we wait too long to begin the rebuild. The window on this core group of veterans shuts in the next two years. We should be focusing on youth and upside NOW. Blow this team up, get as much young talent as possible from what we have. Stock the farm system with as many high-upside players as possible. Sell high on Davis. No player but Machado should be off-limits. The best business move for the team is a World Series, not "homegrown" players.

Mike Bonsiero said...

I suspect that the Orioles leak one set of information to the national media and another set to the local media, or at least different phrasing. So the Ken Rosenthals and Jon Heymans get "Yeah, we'd trade Hardy and/or Wieters." while Roch and Britt get "We'll never say never, but we'd have to be blown away." That way they put it out there that they're open for business, but reassure the fans that overvalue their own players, in the event that they don't end up making a deal.

As to whether trading those guys it's a good idea, it really just comes down to what type of team they want to be. If they're content to be an 85 win team, they can do that for a couple of more years with this core and then hope Bundy and Gausman succeed in a way that the previous classes of pitching prospects haven't. If they're aiming higher than that (and they should be) they either need to spend more money on this years team or trade Hardy and Wieters in strategic deals that fill long term needs.

Unknown said...

#Larry McLaughlin - I have a sportswriter friend who is from St. Louis and remains plugged into Cardinals reporters. The Cardinals are desperate to improve at shortstop and believe they have enough starting pitching to make one available. Shelby Miller is likely to bring the biggest return.

Matt P said...

Pitching prospects have simply become more productive since 1990-2000. I think teams are learning how to better manage them.

I'd probably pass on the deal. The Os don't have enough talent to trade away all three of those guys for a single starter.

Jon Shepherd said...

Has it improved? My understanding is that prospect performance has basically flat lined since the mid 90s. Do you have a link to this study? It would be interesting to review.

Matt P said...

I haven't seen a study saying it. And there has not been much change with offensive prospects over time.

But in 2008, Kershaw, Price and Buchholz were in the top ten. You won't find a single year from 1990-1997 that has three pitching prospects in the top ten who are that good. Pedro Martinez is good enough to be in that conversation. Maybe Kerry Wood and Steve Avery? McDonald? Livan Hernandez?

Jon Shepherd said...

I don't think that constitutes a change in things. It might simply be just a really big year for prospects when they were all in there together.

Matt P said...

True, but I can't prove it in a comment box. I'll send you an e-mail.

Unknown said...

Hardy is as solid as they come,but the O`s can move Machado to SS and find a 3rd basemen via trade or free agency. Baltimore does not attract free agents.That has to change or they will be mediocre or worse for years to come. They need pitching!

Anonymous said...

Years of affordable Miller for 1 year of Hardy, a borderline second baseman and a pitcher who is years from the major leagues? This seems like an easy decision to me. The problem would be that they would want to sign Hardy for more than a year, and I am not so sure Hardy wants to be in St. Louis.

Liam said...

I would probably do this deal but its close. Schoop and especially Rodriguez are high quality prospects, and Hardy is good, but Miller is exactly what we need as a starting pitcher. It seems like we have 3-4 solid starters, but that number 1 guy is really hard to get. Having Bundy and Gausman gives us some depth in the SP prospect department, as they should both be contributors for the next few years.