The signing of Gerardo Parra with the Rockies could end up having more impact on the Orioles than just their losing a free agent. Colorado, which already had three outfielders established, now seems to have a surplus at the position. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported on Tuesday afternoon that the O's and Rockies have "ongoing trade talks" regarding one of the Rockies outfielders.
Parra, who agreed on a three year, $27.5 million contract with the Rockies, is a left-handed hitting outfielder. So are the three guys the Rockies already have: Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Corey Dickerson. Morosi did not say which of these three might be on the O's radar, or any names that might have come up that the O's might have to surrender in a trade. Gonzalez has been mentioned in connection with the O's in the past, but it was never clear how serious that interest may have been.
There are interesting things to be said about each one of those players, though there are downsides to each as well. Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, stands out as the most consistent performer of the bunch, but he's also the oldest at 30, and signed for two more years and $37 million. As a lefty who predictably struggles mightily against lefties, Gonzalez also wouldn't provide any balance to an O's lineup that was horrible against lefty pitchers in 2015.
Gonzalez hit 40 home runs in the most recent season. That's plenty good. And while you might fear the Coors Field effect, Gonzalez hit 24 home runs at home and 16 on the road, so it's not totally lopsided. However, in 2014 he played in only 70 games, and the year before that, while he had an excellent .958 OPS, he played in only 110.
Dickerson, 26, is the youngest of the bunch. He burst onto the scene in 2014 by posting a .312/.364/.567 batting line over 131 games. That's a good way to get attention. He is still a pre-arbitration player, so he'd come with the most possible years of control. That will also make him cost more to acquire in terms of prospects. And Dickerson just played only 65 games in the 2015 season thanks to three separate disabled list trips.
Might Dickerson be a Coors Field mirage? He had a 1.098 home OPS in that 2014 campaign against a much more pedestrian .735 mark on the road. It's a concern, though perhaps less so for the Orioles, since their home park should be friendly to left-handed power whether or not Coors exaggerates things.
That leaves Blackmon, 29, who made the All-Star team in 2014 thanks to a very hot April. That breakout performance proved not to be; by year's end he was down to about a league average .288/.335/.440. Relative to league average, his 2015 numbers were similar. One plus in Blackmon's column is that he stole 43 bases in the 2015 season - one fewer than the entire Orioles team combined. There's no doubt that would add something to the team if he could keep it up here.
With him, too, is the potential for a Coors effect. In the 2015 season, Blackmon posted an .890 home OPS against a .695 road OPS. He batted only .238 on the road for the season. He'll be entering his first year of salary arbitration and is projected to come with a $4.5 million price tag for 2016.
Maybe a bigger question than which of these guys would you want to be on the Orioles is who the heck do they have to trade for any of them that they can afford to give up and the Rockies might actually want? It's an awful thin farm system, just about everyone who doesn't get paid by the Orioles agrees. The top two pitchers have big injury concerns, there are only two truly interesting position player prospects.
Would anyone else interest them? Or what if Dylan Bundy was enough for them? Would you pull the trigger on that trade to get one of these outfielders in hand? That would be a tough pill to swallow after having invested so much energy in getting excited for his eventual arrival, but maybe by now his potential is so diminished that the O's are better off getting a right-now asset rather than continue to treat him as the future top-of-the-rotation starter he once seemed to be destined to be.
Other teams would surely like one of these Rockies outfielders as well, and they might be more inclined to part with interesting assets than the O's. So for now, ongoing talks don't mean a whole lot unless something happens. And as I always say about baseball rumors, probably nothing will happen. But sometimes it does.