Jon Lester, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, David Price, Jorge De La Rosa, Bartolo Colon, John Danks, and Ian Kennedy; these are the top pitching names left floating around the trade rumor mill. With only a few days remaining left before the trade deadline, each name that has surfaced as a trade possibility for the Baltimore Orioles comes with a steep asking price. However, how much is too much when asking for a top pitcher? Should the Orioles consider trading top prospects in the hopes of winning a championship now?
The O’s starting rotation has been playing terrifically as of late, posting a combined 2.94 ERA over their 10-game road trip, but whether or not this rotation can sustain this success is a different story. The overall assessment of the Baltimore Orioles heading into the trade deadline this year is that they need another top of the rotation starter if they hope to win the pennant. With names like Jeff Samardizija, Jason Hammels, Jake Peavy and Brandon McCarthy off the table, there are only a select few remaining, which will certainly up the asking price as the O’s will have to compete with other teams for this select few.
The two top-tier prospects of the Orioles that have continuously come up in trade talks are pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. That asking price appears to be too much for the Baltimore front office to make a deal with. However, if the Orioles can find a way to be able to part ways with one of these prospects and pick up a name like David Price, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, perhaps they should. The future does looks bright for Bundy and Harvey, but if the team can pick up one of these top rotation pitchers, the O’s would turn into one of the favorites to win it all right now.
Lester would not seem to be the right pitcher for that asking price, as he has stated multiple times that returning to Boston next year is his “ultimate goal.” That would essentially leave Baltimore sending away one of their best prospects for a three-month rental, which could be way too steep. Given Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels age, contracts, and asking price, both pitchers may not be worth it for the O’s and reports have not surfaced about Baltimore being interested at all. That leaves only one viable option that would be worth the asking price of one or two top-tier prospects: David Price.
If the Rays decide to part ways with Price, it would be simply for monetary purposes. Price is making $14 million this year and is arbitration eligible next season. If the O’s could convince themselves that parting ways with Bundy and Harvey for a pitcher like Price is a good deal, they would remain relevant for at least five more seasons, given that Price is only 28-years-old and in his prime. However, recent reports state that, as long as the Rays continue winning, they will not part ways with him at all. So the ball is completely back in their court – unless the O’s could make an offer they could not refuse.
On the other hand, if the front office chooses to stand pat on not trading Bundy or Harvey, then half the names available will come off the board. That leaves B-list top pitchers Colon, Kennedy, Burnett, Danks and De La Rosa as the only options left.
Recent reports state that the Rockies are asking too much for De La Rosa (Gausman and Bundy) for the O’s to pull the trigger on. Burnett has expressed interest in rejoining the Pirates, and the Orioles are “lukewarm” on going after the right-hander. That leaves Danks, Kennedy, and Colon. All three of these players should not need a top prospect in return, but to state that any of these three pitchers would make the difference to propel the Orioles to immediate favorites or even major contenders to win it all would appear to be a stretch.
Looking at all of the trade deadline options for the Orioles this season, the answer to the question of ‘how much is too much’ would simply depend on what exactly the O’s hope to accomplish this season. If Baltimore hopes to win it all this year, then parting with their top prospects is inevitable. Price would seem to be the only one worth such an asking price as he makes the team relevant for years to come. If the Orioles simply want to add a decent arm in the hopes of it being enough of a push to make a run at the World Series this year while their prospects continue to develop, than go after a Danks, Kennedy or Colon. Whichever trade the front office decides to pull the trigger on, the confidence levels of their fans and the true hopes of winning it all this year certainly hangs in the balance.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Baltimore Orioles