UPDATE (8:47pm): Per Dan Connolly on Twitter the O's have acquired Travis Snider for LHP Stephen Tarpley and a Player To Be Named Later
The Orioles have been looking for an outfielder all offseason and they may have finally zeroed in on one in the Pittsburgh Pirates' Travis Snider. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reported on Tuesday evening that the two teams have "rekindled" trade talks for the outfielder, which would cost the Orioles a couple of non-40-man minor leaguers. He thinks that the teams could complete a trade within the next day.
The O's seem to have been inquiring all across baseball for outfielders, only in every other trade discussion, the other team mentioned either Hunter Harvey, Dylan Bundy, or Kevin Gausman, and that was that. Of course, taking those names off of the table limits the possibility of what you can bring back, but I think it is safe to say that the Orioles could use those three guys in the future more than they could use some outfielder.
It makes sense for the Orioles to target Snider. He is a player who is without a position in Pittsburgh with a likely outfield containing Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. His $2.1 million salary for 2015 is modest but could be more than a team like the Pirates is willing to pay for a fourth outfielder, which seemingly makes him expendable for a lower price than one of the O's top prospects.
Snider is a former first-round pick with the Blue Jays, so it seems the O's could well get their hands on a Blue Jays first rounder this offseason after all. He first debuted in MLB at age 20 but never lived up to the hype. Getting traded for Brad Lincoln is not a feather you put in your cap.
Now 27, Snider is coming off of what was the best season of his career in 2014, where he batted .264/.338/.438 in 359 plate appearances. That included 13 home runs. That's not going to win him any awards. It is something interesting for a player off the bench, though. A guy who can get results when used part-time is going to be someone who interests Dan Duquette.
As a lefty, Snider could end up platooning with either Steve Pearce or Delmon Young at different times. He doesn't have to be a star to be an upgrade, just better than whatever they might have had otherwise. Or if it turns out he's not, then it won't cost them much to move on either.
What kind of name or names should we expect to see going back to Pittsburgh in this trade? Duquette is very good at trading away people who don't matter for marginally useful parts. It's a safe bet that Harvey is far off the table, and even a name like Chance Sisco probably never even came up, or if it did, not for long.
One name floated by Connolly is Steven Brault, the Orioles' 11th round pick in 2013. He split time between Low-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick in 2014, notching a 2.77 ERA over 146.1 innings pitched in his age 22 season. He was recently ranked as the #21 prospect in the O's system by Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel, who wrote, "The elements are here for a back-end starter if he can find some more consistent arm speed." Doesn't exactly sound like a sure thing.
This might not be what fans had in mind when they were hoping all offseason for the Orioles to do something, but it is something. Nothing about Snider's career arc suggests he would be the next crucial Oriole. Then again, you could have said the same thing once about Young or Nate McLouth. Perhaps the O's scouts look at Snider and see the next in that line of player.