The Orioles have traded Brian Matusz. You may be tempted to think that it doesn't matter to whom or for what, except you would be wrong.
Matusz was traded to the Braves, and while the O's get back a couple of minor leaguers in the trade, they've also traded the #76 overall pick - the competitive balance pick that can be traded - to the Braves.
Much like they did last year with Ryan Webb, they've sold a pick to dump a trivial amount of salary. This is a frustrating decision.
The two minor leaguers the Orioles received in the trade are right-handed pitcher Brandon Barker and left-handed pitcher Trevor Belicek. By some coincidence, these are the last two Braves 16th round picks.
Barker, 23, has been in the Double-A Mississippi rotation this season, putting up some very good numbers. He has a 2.00 ERA in nine starts, striking out 40 batters in 45 innings pitched and walking only 12. It's added up to a 1.044 WHIP - very nice.
Belicek, also 23, began the season in the High-A Rome bullpen where he has also posted some nice numbers. He's struck out 29 batters in 25.1 innings, and also had one outing in Double-A.
Baltimore Baseball's Dan Connolly says that Barker will be headed to Bowie, while Belicek will join Frederick.
With this trade, the Orioles will save about 75% of Matusz's $3.9 million salary that was due for the remainder of the season. It's roughly $3 million in savings. That's slightly more than the amount of Webb's salary the Dodgers ate last year.
It's a true salary dump. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to immediately send Matusz to the great DFA in the sky. Must be kind of embarrassing, though probably not as much as having an ERA of 12.00.
The slot value on the 76th pick is $838,900. The Orioles will have that much less money to spend now, and one fewer chance to draft a player who might ever turn into anything. Was that pick likely to ever turn into someone? No, not really. It's the principle of the thing.
If someone was inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the O's, who have now pulled this caper in two straight seasons, they would probably point out that either Barker or Belicek could be better than whoever the O's might pick at #76. The possibility does exist, it must be said.
With apologies for tooting my own horn, I put forth the O's as a team who might trade their pick to the Braves about a month ago and suggested Matusz as the player most likely to fit that bill. Here we are. Being right about this is not fun. Stop trading picks!