18 March 2015

Should the Orioles Flip Schoop and Matusz to the Mets for Daniel Murphy?

The Orioles have a crowded, inflexible bullpen and seemingly have an extra reliever or two who may be available. The Mets are looking for a left-handed reliever and have shown some interest in Brian Matusz. And already this offseason the O's have been willing to deal Matusz. They've also been stretching him out, possibly showcasing him for other teams, and Matusz clearly wants the opportunity to start again.

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?
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.)

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+).

2008 23 NYM 49 151 131 2 0 .313 .397 .473 .871 130
2009 24 NYM 155 556 508 12 4 .266 .313 .427 .741 96
2011 26 NYM 109 423 391 6 5 .320 .362 .448 .809 126
2012 27 NYM 156 612 571 6 10 .291 .332 .403 .735 103
2013 28 NYM 161 697 658 13 23 .286 .319 .415 .733 108
2014 ★ 29 NYM 143 642 596 9 13 .289 .332 .403 .734 111
6 Yrs 773 3081 2855 48 55 .290 .333 .419 .752 109
162 Game Avg. 162 646 598 10 12 .290 .333 .419 .752 109
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/16/2015.

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.


Anonymous said...

Terrible idea. Schoop's defense alone makes it a bad idea, but throw in more power, and under team control for another six years, and we would be insane to do this.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I'm not so sure it's insane, necessarily, but I wouldn't do it, as I mentioned above.

Tim said...

People sure like to ignore how awful Schoop's offense really was. Murhphy is worth maybe 2 wins more. That means a lot in a weak AL East.

Mike Bonsiero said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a "terrible" idea, but it doesn't make sense in the context of what the Orioles appear to be doing. If they were truly willing to load up for a one year run and/or spend money to keep the next years free agent class together, it would make some sense. But given the emphasis they've put on long term thinking and team control recently, trading Schoop for Murphy doesn't make sense.

Tim said...

Eduardo Rodriguez for a guy who threw ten innings is an example of giving away the future. Not spending on international amateurs is giving away the future. The club has one of the thinnest minor leagues in baseball. The team has not extended several players who cannot be replaced internally. They really did not replace RF.

They have not focused at all on long term thinking.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I'm fine with not bringing back Cruz/Markakis/Miller and the bargain bin strategy this offseason, but it's hard to say they have a plan, really. The Duquette/Toronto saga surely threw a wrench into much of that.

The Orioles aren't going all in this season, and they aren't really building for the future either. They're sort of doing both things. That's fine, and the O's are forward thinking in some ways. Tim does mention some of the issues, including the lack of international spending.

I still like the O's chances this season, for whatever that's worth.

Anonymous said...

Trading Schoopy would be nuts. But I like trading Matusz. He's a LOOGY, that's it. Lots of effective loogys out there

Anonymous said...

Some folks are going to be mighty disappointed in Schoop in a few years.

Unknown said...

As Matt said, the Orioles aren't going all in this year, so it doesn't make sense to deal him for a 1-year guy like Murphy (who won't even provide much more production in my opinion) when they don't have any options to replace him internally. Outside of Ben Zobrist and Howie Kendrick, the 2016 free agent market for 2B is bare. Both those guys are on the wrong side of 30 and the Orioles may have to look to free agency to fill other positions as well.

I think Schoop has enough potential to hold on to him and see what he becomes.

Anonymous said...

Given how thin the system looks in the future. Schoop really only have true value is he is a star player. I have not seen a player like that, so waiting and seeing looks like death by paralysis to me.

Matt Kremnitzer said...


Anonymous said...

1) The team is losing lots of players to free agency.
2) Team has to largely fill those positions from within because free agency is always thin.
3) This means that for Schoop to be of much value down the road, he needs to be a superstar to cover the weaker parts of the team.
4) If Schoop cannot cover the weaker parts then him being average for a below average team is worth nothing much of value.
5) So, if you think Schoop is not a superstar, him have a lot of surplus value is meaningless.

It would be like having a $600k diamond ring on an uninhabited island when you could have traded it for a $300 satellite phone.

Erik said...

The fact is that you can either have a cost-controlled player for several years and hope he hits replacement level or better, or you can have a somewhat plus player for one year. At some point we have to decide that we are going to keep a portfolio of players or we are back to the basement for a loooooong time.

Some people act like Schoop is the only "maybe" on the roster. Our roster is full of them. Actually, where do we NOT have a maybe on the roster except for center field and a couple of starting spots? Just about everyone has a not-small chance of having a bad year.

The time could come when a move to add two wins could mean something. The start of the season is not that time. Once you are in June and look like a playoff team is the time for that.

Anonymous said...

2 wins in June is 4 wins in March.

August said...

You guys should be embarrassed to print idiotic conjecture like this. Here's a tip: put down your slide-rules and watch a baseball game for the first time in your lives. Clearly, you don't enjoy baseball enough to watch games, but it might give you at least a little insight about the numbers you crunch in a vacuum.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yeah. We don't enjoy baseball enough to watch it. We just write and talk about the Orioles in our spare time for free when there aren't any real games going on. Also, I will never put down my slide rule.

Thanks for reading, I guess.

boulder said...

I have no problem trading Schoop and Matusz. However, I don't think Murphy is the answer. They have traded several times for 1 year rentals. The players they will lose are not necessarily going to make the team non-contenders. The O's went to the ALCS without really any contribution from Wieters. I think they can do fine with Joseph (one of the best defensive catchers anywhere) and Sisco in the coming years. Davis was awful last year and is not worth the big money long term contract. The main issue with upcoming free agents is the starting pitchers (Chen, Norris, etc). However, if Gausman continues to improve and one other player contributes soon (Bundy, Harvey, etc.) I don't see any need to do hasty trades for 1 year rentals.

Anonymous said...

My guess is Jon Sheppard has never really watched Schoop play. Is he a NY reporter? I consider myself reasonably skeptical, but I feel strongly that Schoop will be an all-star calibre player.

Jon Shepherd said...

Eh, I guess we can go over Schoop for those who have not watched him over the past few years. Defense? Strong arm, but concerns were over range and footwork. Range still and issue, but team places him well and footwork has drastically improved over the past couple years. He still is likely a more natural 3B, but he should be able to be proficient at second into his 30s. The bat? Great raw power and contact skills. He has issues with pitch recognition and has trouble when his grip and rip approach adds length to his swing. Batspeed is good enough though that we should expect him to peak around being an average hitter at second. If he can retain his power while shortening his swing or, much more difficult, improve his pitch recognition, he might be an elite player.

Anonymous said...

I would love to Trade Matusz and throw in Chris davis! They both have huge contracts and are replaceable! Get an everyday all around Bat for them!

mga9400 said...

Barring Duquette's departure, which may happen, the O's can expect that they will remain competitive during his reign. Murphy would be a great one year FA but Schoop has the heart, defensive skills and athleticism to be given a shot to get his bat up to .250 or higher. I would consider packaging Matucz and Davis but Davis would be the anchor in that deal as he hasn't cracked .200 this spring and I doubt he will be with the O's next year. That said, I think the real need is first base going forward.

Unknown said...

I think the O's are fine this year. Its too early to close the book on Schoop. He had barely any time in AAA at all. I'd like to see how his contact rate improves this season. I also want to see who they retain and what fee agents they bring in after the season. I have faith things will work out and we will continue to have a competitive baseball team in Baltimore for years to come.