2013 Trade Deadline Wrap Up

Let’s get right to it.  The 2013 MLB trade deadline was disappointing.  Most of the sellers ended up not selling (how could the Phillies not trade ANYONE?!?!?!?!), and a lot of the buyers didn’t buy.  With 3 deals over the month of July, including 1 at the deadline, the Baltimore Orioles were one of the more active teams on the trade market.  Let’s take a quick look at how they did.

July 2

Orioles get: RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger from the Chicago Cubs

Orioles give: RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop, and two international signing bonus slots (approximately $388K)

Even though Feldman hasn’t pitched particularly well in his month with the Orioles (5.70 ERA in 6 starts) I thought this was a great trade.  We’ve talked about it a few times now, but it’s worth mentioning again that the Orioles really needed some starting pitching help.  Recognizing that need, they did well to go out and get Feldman early in the month of July, rather than wait until the deadline.  Feldman isn’t anything close to an ace, but he’s a guy that will limit walks and give you quality innings.  He’s basically your average MLB starter (on pace for about 2.0 fWAR), and adding an average starter is a huge upgrade in the Orioles starting rotation.

I still WANT to have faith that Arrieta and Strop will be effective pitchers, but I think it was time for them to move on.  Both guys can put up huge strikeout numbers and occasionally look brilliant, but they are frustratingly inconsistent.  They often have a lot of trouble finding the strikezone, which greatly limits their effectiveness.

July 23

Orioles get:  RHP Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers

Orioles give:  3B/1B Nick Delmonico

Doug took a brief look at this trade a couple weeks ago when he was going over relief options for the Orioles prior to the deadline, and mentioned how he thought this was a good deal for the Orioles to make.  I respectfully disagree.  It’s not that Rodriguez won’t help Baltimore down the stretch, or that I believe Delmonico will be a future star.  It’s because I think Delmonico is too good of a prospect to give up for 20-25 innings of relief pitching.  Personally, I think teams should be able to find effective relief pitching by looking through their couch cushions, so giving up Delmonico was paying too steep of a price.

Delmonico was ranked as Baltimore’s #6 prospect by Baseball Prospectus heading into the season, and while they currently project him as a second division regular, he’s only playing in High A as a 21 year old, so there is a lot of time for that projection to change.  If anything, Delmonico is an interesting enough prospect that he could have been used as an enticing part of a larger package that would have brought back a more significant return.

July 31

Orioles get:  RHP Bud Norris from the Houston Astros

Orioles give:  OF L.J. Hoes, LHP Josh Hader, Competitive Balance Draft Pick #33

Another trade that I didn’t particularly like. Bud Norris may be the Astros best pitcher, but most talent evaluators view him as a #4 or #5 pitcher, or even a reliever due to his issues with left handed hitters (career .310 wOBA versus righties, career .350 wOBA against lefties).  I think Norris will provide a slight improvement this year, but I don’t really see the point of acquiring him after they already got Feldman.  I’m sure the fact that Norris won’t be a free agent until 2016 was a big reason the Orioles went after him, and he’s likely viewed as Jason Hammel’s replacement following the season when he becomes a free agent.

While Keith Law of ESPN thought the return for Norris was light (insider access required and encouraged), I disagree. I like Hoes more than most, especially since he has greatly improved his on base abilities this year.  He won’t be a star, but I think he could be an average to slightly below average corner outfielder if he can consistently get on base.   While Hoes doesn’t have much projection left, Hader has a ton.  Baseball Prospectus ranked Hader as the Orioles 10th best prospect prior to the season, as a projectable LHP currently throwing in Low A.  Hader is a high risk prospect though, since he is only 19 years old.  Baltimore also gave up their competitive balance pick in next year’s draft, tentatively #33 overall.  I likely would have given up Hoes and either Hader or the pick for Norris, but not both.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of 2 of the 3 deals the Orioles made, I am hoping I’ll be proven wrong.  I’ll gladly admit that I also may put too much value in prospects, when the reality is that most of them won’t ever contribute to the major league team. In the end, Baltimore improved their team’s chances of making the playoffs (ESPN insider required, again), without giving up anything of value or sacrificing their future. And by doing that, it’s hard to fault them for making these moves when a playoff birth is within striking distance for the second year in a row.

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