There is a new Oriole on Tuesday night and his name is Travis Snider. The O's completed their rumored trade with the Pirates for the 27-year-old lefty outfielder, sending two minor league prospects to Pittsburgh in the deal. The two players traded were 2013 third rounder Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later. A name floated earlier by the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly was Steven Brault.
Being as Snider is a qualified major leaguer - though the Duquettebot, as you'll see below, did not thus bless his presence - that means someone will have to be sent to the great DFA in the sky as he arrives. That player is minor league catcher Michael Ohlman, a 24-year-old who batted .236/.310/.318 with Bowie last year. He might well pass through waivers.
Snider is shipped to Baltimore after putting together the best season of his career in 2014, in which he batted .264/.338/.438 over 359 plate appearances in 140 games. He has appeared in parts of seven big league seasons and has never had more plate appearances than that in his career. He is a former first round pick from the Blue Jays who never quite lived up to the hype, though he debuted in MLB at age 20. Now, he heads to Baltimore.
Does this mean that the Orioles are buying high on a guy who could fall back to the pack? Well, maybe. Often, as the Orioles send out a press release announcing a signing or trade, they highlight things like platoon splits or something like that, giving some insight as to the party line on the trade. In the Snider release, there's nothing of that sort, unless you count, "He saw action at both left and right field last season." So there aren't any clues to be gleaned there.
The inclusion of Tarpley is a bit of a surprise as he has appeared on top 10 prospect rankings in the Orioles system in a couple of different places, including Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, both of whom had him at #9.
In his rankings for Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel made note that the O's themselves seemed to rate Tarpley lower than #9, so while the prospect-industrial complex might see that as a deal for a top 10 prospect in the system, the O's apparently do not. Tarpley, a left-handed starting pitcher, turns 22 next month. He spent the 2014 season with the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds, recording 60 strikeouts in 66 innings over 13 games (12 starts) with a 3.68 ERA.
That there is a player to be named later in the deal could mean that the player is a 2014 draftee who can't be traded until a year after he was signed. There's also the possibility that it is someone else, perhaps with the Pirates having their eye on a player who is returning from an injury or something of that nature. If it is a 2014 draftee, then it's not Brault, whom, like Tarpley, was drafted in 2013.
Connolly reported that the teams were believed to be discussing a hitter as the second player.
We can now deploy the Dan Duquette automated response generator to supply some vague platitudes that may ultimately prove to have some basis in reality:
Duquette: "Snider is a solid dependable power-hitting outfielder and is an excellent fit for Camden Yards." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 28, 2015
May we be so fortunate for that to be true.
Snider figures to find himself in a platoon situation in the outfield with someone like Steve Pearce or perhaps even serving as a platoon designated hitter with Delmon Young, both of whom are right-handed batters. He's slotted to have a $2.1 million salary in 2015. The O's could have had Colby Rasmus instead for merely money. Time will tell us whether that's something the O's regret.
The O's already have a couple of lefty outfielders who figured to be on the MLB team in Alejandro De Aza and David Lough. It'd be hard to imagine Lough just getting cut now, though he could always be traded later. His chances of making the team just got a little more slim, though.