14 October 2016

Ranking O's Players Most Likely To Be Traded Away With A Competitive Balance Pick

For some reason, the Orioles have traded their competitive balance draft pick the last two years in order to dump a little bit of salary. The first instance came in 2015, when the O's shipped Ryan Webb and the $2.75 million left on his deal along with the No. 74 overall pick to the Dodgers in exchange for two minor leaguers. The Dodgers then released Webb, because they wanted the draft pick.

Then, this past season, the O's traded Brian Matusz and the about $3 million left on his contract, plus the No. 76 pick in the draft, to the Braves for two minor leaguers. The Braves designated Matusz for assignment quickly. Again, the trade for the Dodgers and Braves was all about paying for a draft pick, and the O's were happy to oblige.

There's no guarantee the O's will do the same thing this year, but it's a strategy Dan Duquette has used to shed a little payroll early in the year. It seems bizarre -- you'd figure it would make more sense to non-tender a player or two to make up that salary instead of sending away a top-75ish draft pick -- but the O's seem to think this is some kind of market inefficiency (along with targeting unwanted qualifying offer players late in the offseason).

So who are some possibilities to be attached to another competitive balance pick and sold away to the highest bidder? (It's worth noting MLB and the MLBPA have postponed the Competitive Balance Lottery until January, and that the format could be altered.) Let's explore the options quickly.

5. Ubaldo Jimenez/Yovani Gallardo/Wade Miley

Just kidding. They all make too much money (Ubaldo: $13.5 million; Gallardo: $11 million; Miley: $8.75 million). Let's look elsewhere.

4. Hyun Soo Kim ($4.2 million)

How good does that two-year, $7 million deal for Kim look now? You wouldn't think the Orioles would trade him away in this type of deal because Kim showed he can successfully hit major league pitching. Then again, Kim's playing time was sporadic at the beginning of the season, and it sure didn't seem like Buck Showalter wanted him on the team for a portion of the year.

I don't think the O's will trade Kim -- and they shouldn't -- but it's at least possible they try to attach him to the competitive balance pick in an effort to garner a somewhat better return of minor leaguers than the past two trades.

3. T.J. McFarland (MLBTR projection: $0.7 million)

McFarland might have run out of chances to stick with the Orioles. He's out of options, and he might also be out of a role. McFarland has always been more of a swingman type than a lefty specialist, but the O's might not need either one. Donnie Hart is the second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen to go along with Zach Britton. And for now, they have six starters to choose from, plus long relievers/spot starters Vance Worley, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Parker Bridwell, and others.

McFarland is a clear non-tender candidate, and he doesn't make enough money anyway to be included as the only player sold in a potential comp. pick deal. However, he could be included with someone like...

2. Ryan Flaherty (MLBTR projection: $1.7 million)

Say what you will about Flaherty (I have), but it's clear what he brings to the table. He can play multiple positions competently, including middle and corner infield spots. But he's also not a very good hitter, and it's possible the Orioles seek someone else to fill this role for less money. He could be someone the O's keep at the beginning of the season and then dump to shed some salary. Or, you know, he could just be non-tendered. You could say the same thing for the next guy on this list.

1. Vance Worley (MLBTR projection: $3.3 million)

The Orioles' two competitive balance pick trades involved pitchers, and the O's could find themselves with six starters and no defined role for Worley. So why wouldn't the O's just non-tender him? Great question! Why didn't they non-tender Matusz last year? Why did they go out of their way to dump Webb and his reasonable salary the year before that? The Orioles clearly do some smart things, but they also do some really weird things. This could just be another one of those, and Worley's salary seems just about the right amount to dump on another team.

By the way, this whole thing is crazy. Shouldn't the Orioles be doing more to actually keep extra draft picks? At least with Webb, the O's had already signed him to a guaranteed deal. The O's didn't have to keep Matusz around. The same goes for Worley, Flaherty, and McFarland.


Jon Shepherd said...

Vane Worley, I think, is the chicken dinner. One can imagine the Orioles wanting to hedge their bets with a guy like Worley in a RP/SP slot.

Only issue is that they could ditch him in spring training for about 600k. Draft pick compensation probably would mean broke camp with him and he downright is awful with club preferring Wright or Wilson.

Unknown said...

The problem is 1,2,3 have basically no return value. They are salary relief for the O's and 4/6 on this list should have never been signed in the first place.

The problem with collecting garbage, it adds up and you end up with no where to put it.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Of course they don't have much return value. That's why the O's would be dumping them, just like the past two trades.

The Orioles never should have signed Hyun Soo Kim? What?

I'm not going to argue about Ubaldo/Gallardo. I didn't like those signings much either. But the Miley trade? It didn't look great when he was pitching so poorly, but that's much more defensible.

Pip said...

I enjoyed this, and it seems to have been tongue-in-cheek, simply because the very idea is so stupid. Matusz gave no indication he'd be worth keeping so why tender him anyway? Webb wasn't very expensive and he'd have been more valuable to keep.
Why does Dan value these picks so little, especially with such a bare farm?
Wilson, Mancini, and Hart, among others, were drafted far later than mid-70s.
Finally, why does Dan contradict himself so much? If money is so expensive, why give so much to Hunter to be a mediocre middle reliever, and then dump him for non-player Junior lake?
He really doesn't seem to have any consistent philosophy, and does random things for no reason.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yeah, definitely tongue-in-cheek.

I don't completely understand why they do this either. It's one of the most bizarre strategies that Duquette uses.

Unknown said...

I thank that Dan Duquette believes that draft and Latin American signings are a waste of money. He believes that bonuses are too high and there's too much of a chance that the player never pans out. Consequently, he doesn't think that draft picks are all that valuable and certainly having extra money to spend is just more opportunity for waste.

I remember when Duquette was in Boston he made a big deal of the Red Sox' push to sign Asian talent. The bonuses were lower and the players were more advanced. It didn't work out but apparently he still holds to his belief on the value of acquiring US and Latin American amateur talent.

Roger said...

I think Jon hit the nail on the head with Worley and also explains Matusz. We all talked here last winter that Matusz had some marginal value but likely wasn't worth keeping to find out how much. The O's went the reverse direction and paid to see how much value he had and were disappointed in a predictable way. Both McFarland and Flaherty (Rule 5'ers) are clear non-tenders and not worth trading (their main drawing card is left-handedness). Both should be signed back on minor league deals (like Janish). I sure would shoot for trading Gallardo for salary only and not expecting any minor league return. Jimenez has enough hot streaks that he has some value either as a SP or in long relief. Here's my controversial statement, Miley is a keeper. The O's traded for him because he's shown potential to be a solid SP (maybe or maybe not as good as Miranda) and he will eat innings and occasionally shown flashes of excellent performance. The O's would not find anything better on the FA market.

Worley pitched pretty well most of the time and filled a real hole the O's had when Wilson and Wright were ineffective. His salary fits that niche of trading for a comp pick and getting nebulous minor leaguers in return. As both Webb and Matusz were subsequently released, maybe the O's figured they could re-sign them if they wanted to on a minor league contract - that's what Matusz ended up doing with the Cubs. As a minor league depth piece, both Matusz and Worley would make sense.

Anonymous said...

1, 2 and 3 have the collective value of a bag of baseballs and one used Louisville Slugger!

Anonymous said...

Worley looks like Charlie Kerfeld jr!