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Orioles trade rumors: Team was "on the verge" of acquiring Hector Santiago from Angels

The Orioles came close to trading for Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago this winter. The source is Santiago himself. Not every trade rumor comes out like that.

The Orioles have been looking for a starting pitcher all offseason and they haven't found one yet, although it doesn't seem to be for a lack of trying to find one. A rumor that surfaced on Friday morning was that the O's had been "on the verge" of acquiring lefty starting pitcher Hector Santiago.

It's an interesting spinning of the baseball rumor mill if only because the source of the rumor was Santiago himself, who relayed to the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher that his agent had told him during the winter that he was about to be traded. That sounds fairly serious, although we have no idea what happened that the trade apparently got close and then fell apart.

Back in December, MLB Network's Jon Heyman described the Orioles as "one of many" teams who'd inquired about Santiago at that time. There is a lot of distance between being one team to inquire and being on the verge of making a trade, and until hearing from Santiago today, there had been nothing else to link the O's to him beyond that bare rumor from two months ago.

Some interest in Santiago makes sense from the Orioles perspective. He is a left-handed starting pitcher with two arbitration years remaining before he becomes a free agent. Santiago is set to make $5 million in 2016.

What would he have cost? Who knows? You can't help but wonder whether there were any O's prospects - or even major leaguers - notified they might be close to being traded.

The Angels farm system is getting totally slagged by everyone at present, so any remote prospect-type player might have interested them. Of course, they would want to exact a price in order to give up two years of a pitcher who has a 3.55 career ERA over 141 major league games.

Not knowing the price, it's tough to say whether the O's should or shouldn't have made the trade. There are some red flags about Santiago, the reddest of which is the fact that in the most recent season, his ground ball rate was only 29.9%. That's a lot of fly balls, and you know what tends to happen to fly balls at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, especially in the hot summer months.

Anaheim, of course, has the infamous marine layer that you hear mentioned in every game broadcast there. That could be one explanation for why Santiago posted a 2.65 home ERA but a 4.70 road ERA in the most recent season, with his ERA ballooning in August and September after a good first half.

For comparison, even homer-prone Orioles pitchers like Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and the recently-departed Wei-Yin Chen managed to get at least 40% ground balls last season. Santiago gave up 29 home runs in 180.2 innings. That would probably go up here.

What's more, although Santiago's entering his fifth full year of big league service, he has only been a starting pitcher for the entirety of one full season. He pitched in 34 games, 23 starts for the White Sox in 2013, and 30 games, 24 of which were starts, for the Angels in 2014.

Oh, and while he had a 3.59 ERA in 2015, at first glance it sure looks like there was some BABIP luck involved. Hitters had a .252 average on balls put in play against him last year - about 20 points lower than his career average. That's probably why he's always been a pitcher who is not liked by Fielding Independent Pitching - a 4.54 FIP against his 3.55 career ERA. And he walked 71 batters of the 776 he faced last year.

It obviously doesn't matter since the trade didn't happen, but it's interesting that they talked about it. What do you think? Would you have liked the O's to get Santiago instead of kick around the free agent market, waiting for Yovani Gallardo? What do you think sounds like a fair trade price?