Well, it is that time of year again. When the trade deadline passes and once again, teams are still able to trade for players. As it should be better known as the “non-waiver trade deadline” that has passed, in August, teams can still make last minute moves in order to strengthen their teams just before heading into the Fall Classic. Although the players being acquired at this point in time are not as nearly influential as the ones acquired in July, the Texas Rangers this season have three very game-changing individuals whom have just cleared waivers and are now open for trading. The most notable and probably most intriguing to the Baltimore Orioles could be 28-year-old Rangers ace, Yu Darvish. But is he worth seriously considering a major trade for this late in the season?
Before the end of the “trade deadline,” the O’s had decided against trading any of their talented pitching prospects. The difference between then and now, however, is the kind of talent that is available. Before the deadline, about the only pitcher that would have been considered “worth” trading top prospects for would have been David Price. Price was still young enough, and proven enough, to have seriously considered trading a Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman for. However, now that Darvish is available, a trade like that could be seriously considered.
Darvish is a young and dominant strikeout pitcher who is just reaching his “prime” at age 28. His four-seam fastball can reach a high of 97 mph, which he pairs with a hard-breaking slurve (or slider) out-pitch that can drop down to roughly 80 mph. If the O’s backed off their no-prospect trade stance and ended up trading for Darvish, they would already have a proven, dominant force in the Major Leagues. No one truly knows how well Bundy and the other top prospects will pan out; and although anyone can argue against that logic, at age 28 and just $10 million/year for the next three seasons, there really is not much downside to a deal for unproven prospects. Nonetheless, if there does happen to be a downside to Darvish’s game, some critics have recently pointed to his mental strength and longevity as a weakness.
Recently, while being placed on the 15-day DL for mild inflammation of the elbow, Darvish has been accused of not being willing enough to play through minor discomfort. However, ever since coming into the majors, Darvish has always shown the maturity and awareness of his own body to understand what some pitchers fail to recognize before being injured: To know when to rest.
For example, after becoming the pitcher who reached 500 strikeouts in the least amount of innings pitched in MLB history, he spoke with reporters, stating that “If I can have three weeks off between starts, I could pitch like this every time.”
Although joking at the time, Darvish has clearly been aware of the increasing amount of Tommy John surgeries over the past few seasons and has even been an outspoken advocate for increasing the pitching rotation in order to increase more days of rest.
“It (the rest between starts) is way too short… I think (adding more pitchers) would (be) profitable, so they should talk about it.”
If Darvish’s arm issues are tied to his heavy workload, then the O’s could end up being the perfect fit. Increasing the depth of the pitching rotation will, more than likely, not happen anytime soon…for any team. However, monitoring innings pitched and pitch count in order to reduce time off between starts and impending inflammation may just do the trick.
The Orioles come stacked with a bullpen that, for the most part, is already closing out the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of close games. Since the All-Star break, the O’s are 20-10 and their starting pitching over that time has averaged just 6 IP/game. With Miller, O’Day, and Britton steadily closing out games, and manager Buck Showalter continuing to show why he is one of the bests in the bigs at managing his pitchers and bullpen, then why not Yu Darvish? While playing for the O’s, there would be no reason to pitch Darvish past the sixth unless his pitch count was low, which would save his arm and increase his longevity.
Final verdict: Too risky.
The Baltimore Orioles have too much of a good thing going on here this season, and even if they fall in the postseason this year, the team will be even better coming into next year. The youth movement is still flowing and they continue to build off of the success of their previous years. A trade for a talent such as Yu Darvish for the amount of payroll he is signed for should definitely still be strongly considered. However, why rock the boat when the team is now just two games out of being the best team in the majors?
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Baltimore Orioles