In Dan Duquette’s first offseason with the Orioles, he made only one major trade, sending Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.
It was a good trade for the Orioles. Hammel did well in 2012, and Lindstrom, who was an effective reliever, was used to fetch Joe Saunders from the Arizona Diamondbacks late in the following season.
This season, he made four trades in just under two months, acquiring pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger from the Chicago Cubs, reliever Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee, right-hander Bud Norris from Houston and outfielder Michael Morse from Seattle.
The cost of those five players were pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop (Feldman, Clevenger), third baseman Nick Delmonico (Rodriguez), outfielder L.J. Hoes and minor league pitcher Josh Hader (Norris) and outfielder Xavier Avery (Morse).
The trades didn’t immediately pay off; the Orioles didn’t make the postseason while K-Rod and Morse weren’t major factors. If Feldman is re-signed and Norris does well next year, they could be important deals.
For now, Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president for baseball operations, has traded off lots of inventory.
Strop was the only one of the six players dealt who wasn’t an Oriole draftee.
Arrieta was picked in the fifth round in 2007, Avery and Hoes, second and third rounders in 2008, Delmonico in the sixth round in 2011, and Hader in the 19th round a year ago.
Their departure doesn’t leave a lot of prospects drafted in higher rounds left.
Zach Britton, who was picked in the third round in 2006, will be out of options next spring. There has been some interest from other teams, but for now the Orioles are hanging on to him. They’re not overly eager to trade more prospects even though Britton may no longer fit into that category.
Brian Matusz, who was picked before Avery and Hoes in 2008, could be gone this winter. His salary as a left-handed reliever may be more than the Orioles want to pay, and he’d like to start, and probably won’t get another chance here.
Other than Britton, Matusz and Steve Johnson, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the 2009 trade for George Sherrill, the Orioles don’t seem to have a lot of tradable players. They don't want to deal Mike Wright, who was a third-round pick in 2011.
The Orioles haven’t always drafted well in later rounds recently. Even though first rounders Matt Wieters (2007), Matusz (2008), Manny Machado (2010), Dylan Bundy (2011) and Kevin Gausman (2012) have made the majors, not a lot of players selected after them have. In fairness, Machado, Bundy and Gausman made their way to the majors quickly, and others from their drafts will follow.
No one from the Orioles’ 2009 draft has yet to make the majors, but first-rounder Matt Hobgood made steps this year, and 50th round pitcher Tim Berry is currently in the Arizona Fall League.
The relative weakness of some of those drafts could affect the Orioles ability to draft.
Delmonico, who the Orioles overpaid to sign out of high school, hasn’t been impressive as a pro. This year, he made 18 errors in 57 games at third base. After he was traded to Milwaukee, Delmonico batted just .194 with no home runs for Brevard County in the Florida State League. He’d hit .243 with 19 home runs for Frederick.
Two years ago when Duquette arrived, he talked about how important it was to build up the minor leagues. They’re undoubtedly in better shape, but if the Orioles want to try and pick up a left fielder or designated hitter this winter, they don’t seem to have much to trade.
Whether Arrieta, Avery, Delmonico, Hader or Hoes will ever become established major leaguers isn’t known, but the Orioles need many more players of their quality—or higher—in their system in order to become solid trade partners.
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox ended their American League Championship Series with a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox host Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
While Prince Fielder’s failure to drive in runs has been talked about extensively on the broadcasts, it was the Red Sox superb bullpen that stood out in this series.
In the offseason, I thought Boston overpaid for Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million). Victorino had never hit .300 or hit 20 homer runs. He’s never even had 70 RBIs in a season. In 2012, Victorino had slumped to .255, and his OPS had dropped to a career low .704.
In the first five games of the ALCS, Victorino had been 2-for-21, but Red Sox fans will remember his grand slam home run on Saturday and consider the money well spent.