Offseason trade targets: Reeling them in

Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIR

Who can Dan Duquette obtain to make the 2013 Orioles better?

Like a lot of you, I'm growing increasingly pessimistic that the Orioles will make a major transaction before the 2013 season opens. Dan Duquette seems content to start the 2013 season with the roster looking much like the 2012 Orioles roster, minus Mark Reynolds. This certainly has some relation to the number of guys already on the roster who are in the process of receiving raises through arbitration, pushing our payroll into the $90M territory without a single acquisition.

Nonetheless, a lot of names have been linked to the Orioles in trade rumors of varying credibility. I already discussed who the Orioles might move to pick up one or more of these guys. I should note, as was raised in the comments for that first piece, that I'm operating under the assumption that Duquette wants or expects the 2013 Orioles to contend for a playoff spot again. Who might help them to get there?

*****

Michael Morse

From the moment Adam LaRoche re-signed with Washington, the assumption that Morse would be traded was almost immediate. The Orioles are a natural partner because they're shopping for a hitter to replace Reynolds, and they have left-handed pitching depth (which seems to be a need in Washington). Acquiring Morse would be for 2013 only, after which he becomes a free agent. A healthy Michael Morse would instantly be one of, if not the, best hitter the Orioles have. The health is a risk, though, with Morse only having one DL-free season under his belt (a monster 2011 where he OPSed .910). Frankly, I think there's less discussion to be had of whether the Orioles should obtain Morse than whether they can (at least at a reasonable price). I doubt Duquette is willing to part with much more than a lefty reliever for one year of Morse - and the Nationals, if you'll recall, are the team that paid John Lannan $6M to spend most of last year in AAA as an insurance policy. Having Morse on their bench for the same reason, when you consider that they have lots of guys who've taken DL trips in the past few years, seems like a likely outcome.

Wisdom of acquiring Morse: Medium (high if the price is one pitcher)

Likelihood of acquiring Morse: Low

*****

Justin Smoak

With the Mariners acquiring Kendrys Morales, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, they would seem to have a glut of 1B/DH/alleged-corner-OF types. Smoak struck many folks as the odd man out under this arrangement, a no-longer-young hitter who's never found his groove at the major-league level. And since he's spent so much of that major league time hitting warning-track flyballs at Safeco, a change of scenery could indeed flip a switch. However, much like Morse, I see the issue for the Orioles obtaining Smoak as one of motivation for the Mariners. Morales, Bay and Ibanez are not exactly locks to be both healthy and productive in the cavernous Safeco, and the Mariners still have an option on Smoak to stash him at AAA until they need him.

Wisdom of acquiring Smoak: Medium

Likelihood of acquiring Smoak: Low

*****

Jason Kubel

Kubel's name has been linked to the Orioles primarily due to the Diamondbacks' glut of outfielders. Stacey covered this in much more detail recently, but Kubel seems like a poor target. The Orioles already have a Jason Kubel (a righty masher who can't field), and his name is Wilson Betemit. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those "rumors" that was circulated mostly by a bored, uninformed reporter or a player's agent.

Wisdom of acquiring Kubel: Low

Likelihood of acquiring Kubel: Low

*****

Rick Porcello

The Orioles already have a Rick Porcello (a promising, frustrating young pitcher whose peripherals outperform his results), and his name is Jake Arrieta. Rumors linking Porcello to the Orioles are older, and seem to have already come and gone with no results. Let's be grateful for that. The only pitchers the Orioles should be selling pieces to obtain are established major leaguers - they don't need to add another name to the nine-man rotation of "whoever's not driving us crazy this week."

Wisdom of acquiring Porcello: Low

Likelihood of acquiring Porcello: Low

*****

Putting a little thought into each of these rumors seems to add to Paul's recent conclusion when examining the free agent class - it's frustrating to see the Orioles so inactive, but there's no one move that jumps out as the silver bullet that Duquette should've fired. Of course, we as fans know even less about trade negotiations than we do about free agent talks, but Duquette seems smart enough to know that the Orioles should only be shuttling players around and messing with last year's chemistry if a move is an obvious improvement to the club.

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