Other than being involved in early discussions with the Chicago Cubs for their starting “ace”, Jeff Samardzija, the Baltimore Orioles had been relatively quiet in being committed to midseason trade talks. However, with Johan Santana’s injury, along with their investment opportunity in him coming to an abrupt halt, the door has officially been kicked open to plan B: trades.
The 35-year-old Santana, who had been pitching well while rehabbing in the minors, was scheduled to join the O’s major league roster after this upcoming Friday. Unfortunately for both him and the Orioles, Santana took a line drive off the lower part of his leg, leaving him stumbling in pursuit of the ball. An MRI later revealed a torn Achilles tendon.
Santana had been attempting to make his first start in the majors since last pitching in 2012 with the New York Mets. He had missed all of last season with a second major shoulder surgery, but Baltimore took a chance on him this offseason, signing him to a minor league contract this past March.
Vice president of baseball operations, Doug Duquette recently spoke of the unlucky injury to Santana to reporters, saying that the team was looking at Santana as kind of being “like a midseason acquisition or trade” without actually having “had to trade a player.”
Now that Santana’s comeback bid is officially over and Miguel Gonzalez has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, there may not be any other options for Duquette and the team in an attempt to right the ship. The Orioles’ looming concerns in their starting rotation do not seem to be getting any better as the season moves along, ranking near the bottom of the league in ERA (4.21) and dead last in quality starts (21), and if the O’s hope to contend for a World Series, or even to make the playoffs at all, a trade for someone like Samardzija will not be so much a choice as it will be a necessity.
Playing for the last-place Chicago Cubs this season, Samardzija has a 2.54 ERA, but only has one win to show for it. There is no telling whether or not the change in scenery from Chicago to Baltimore, but his offensive support will definitely improve greatly. He will now go from the 29th ranked team in batting average (.231) and 26th in team slugging percentage (.366) to a team that is ranked third in batting average (.269) and sixth in team slugging (.416). He will not face the challenge of moving from the NL Central to the offensive heavy AL East, which will mean he will have to bring his A-game each and every night.
No matter what the cause, the fact still remains, whether or not the Orioles want to, a trade is in their eminent future, and it happens to still look bright. There are not too many teams in the league right now that have the means or the ability to make a trade that has the potential to fit so well, but the O’s do. If Baltimore ends up deciding that Samardzija does not fit into their future scheme- so be it. Regardless, a legitimate “ace” will still be in need for the Orioles if they plan on making it to the Fall Classic. The injury to Santana, however, may have just forced their hand in the best of ways.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles; O’s-Zone
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Baltimore Orioles
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