The rumor mill was spinning for the Orioles following Friday’s game. If you haven’t heard yet, the O’s are said to be discussing a swap of Melvin Upton and Ubaldo Jimenez with the Padres.
That sounds too crazy to possibly be true, but this was not some nobody throwing out the rumor. A number of well-known national baseball writers weighed in on the situation.
It’s always possible they’re all talking to the same people who don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. Remember how Dexter Fowler signing with the Orioles was supposedly a done deal. It’s come up enough that there’s probably some heat to it, though.
One added wrinkle: The Padres are also said to be looking for a prospect from the Orioles to complete the trade. While Upton will be owed a few million dollars more over the next few seasons than Jimenez, Upton also has some immediately apparent use as a player while Jimenez would be a reclamation project. So it makes sense that they want more than just a little bit of salary savings.
There’s no guarantee that the O’s and Padres will agree on who that prospect should be, so don’t get your hopes up yet. There’s a reason why I say of every baseball rumor that probably nothing will happen.
If it does, though, what prospect do you think the Orioles might actually trade? Where would you draw the line and start to think that the O’s were giving up too much?
Thinking about where to draw the line
In an article last month, I tackled general thoughts on who seemed to be untouchable and who might be trade bait. The Orioles don’t seem to trade either first round picks or players who would seem to be lined up to fill a need on next year’s team. I think that likely puts Ryan Mountcastle and Chance Sisco off the table. If it was one of those guys, that’s where I’d freak out automatically.
Just about anyone else that you might name, well, they should be fair game for at least discussion in a trade like this. Maybe you’d prefer to see all prospects saved to try to get a starting pitching upgrade, and that’s a fair stance to take.
However, Dan Duquette has repeatedly commented on the weakness of the trade market for pitching, so it’s entirely possible getting a better outfielder is the best way to make the Orioles a better team.
Of the five players I figured to be trade bait a month ago, you can probably scratch Trey Mancini and David Hess from the list for this trade. Mancini is a first baseman and the Padres have Wil Myers - only a year older than Mancini and already in his fourth MLB season - set at that position. Hess has a 5+ ERA at Double-A Bowie, so his trade stock probably doesn’t exist right now.
Tanner Scott, the lefty reliever recently promoted to Bowie, is a name that has come up a lot over the winter and spring, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. As to why, that’s because his first Double-A pitch hit 101 on the radar gun. That’s fast. The sixth round pick from 2014 just turned 22 yesterday. He has time to figure it out.
Scott needs the time. Although he got promoted up from Frederick, Scott walked 42 batters in 48.1 innings there and posted a 4.47 ERA. The substantial number of strikeouts, 63, or 30% of the batters he faced, doesn’t quite make up for that. There’s also the fact that his scouting report says he doesn’t really have any secondary pitches.
Although Scott is up among the top O’s prospects, that’s more a reflection of a lack of quality prospects in the system than anything else. If a minor league reliever with no secondary pitches is what makes this trade happen, I’ll pack his bags and wish him the best out west.
Third baseman Jomar Reyes, the 19-year-old Dominican prospect at Frederick this year, is a guy who might interest teams, but he hasn’t done great this year. Yes, he’s young for his level, but a .236/.277/.360 batting line is not exactly screaming that here is a guaranteed star player. The O’s should probably wait to see what they can get out of him themselves rather than sell low.
That leaves another 19-year-old Dominican player, Ofelky Peralta. The right-handed pitcher has been at Delmarva this year and doing well for himself. On a couple of occasions on O’s broadcasts, Jim Palmer has mentioned Peralta as a player who might win the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.
Peralta’s a long way away. He’s doing fine enough at Low-A this year, though he’s walking too many guys (47 in 80.2 IP). Since he’s definitely not a near-term answer for the O’s, that could make him trade bait. But Peralta might well be the best healthy Orioles pitching prospect, so to me, that seems like too steep a price to balance the scales in a bad contract swap.
Of course, there are many other prospect names in the Orioles system. If first round picks are out and guys who are hurt are out, that doesn’t leave many people who the O’s would blink about giving up. Maybe if it was Jonah Heim, considered the best defensive catcher in the system, that could seem to be steep. Pretty much anybody else, Duquette might drive to the airport himself.
Who are your personal untouchables if this deal ends up coming to fruition? Whose name, if included, would cause you to break out the torches and pitchforks and congregate menacingly outside of Duquette’s office window? How likely do you think it is that this whole thing will actually happen?