The Orioles woke up this morning with an 8% chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs. They have had the worst starting rotation in the AL by a large margin for some time, as well as an offense with multiple $10+ million players underperforming expectations.
Despite these things, not only have the Orioles not given up on the season, but MASN's Roch Kubatko reports that the team is "actively seeking a starting pitcher." The idea of trading any kind of asset for one starting pitcher that can't possibly make a difference in this season just makes me sigh and shake my head.
On the other hand, the Orioles rotation is so bad that even a mediocre starter would represent an improvement on 2-3 of the O's current starting pitchers. The appeal of that - if they don't have to give up much of a prospect - is at least somewhat understandable.
It's hard to make sense of baseball rumors from the outside. Different people tell different reporters different things. Some of those people know more than others about what is actually true. For instance, last February, someone told Kubatko that the Orioles had an agreement with then-free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler. About 36 hours later, Fowler showed up in the Cubs camp, having re-signed there instead.
That's not meant as a shot at Kubatko specifically. Several reporters, both local and national, independently reported the same information about Fowler and the Orioles. The point is that whatever person or people were talking to those reporters were wrong. When reading trade rumors or any other baseball reporters, it's always worth keeping this in mind. The source can be wrong.
As a result of all of this, sometimes conflicting information makes it out into the world. Not too long ago, we were hearing all about how owner Peter Angelos had given permission for the team to trade some of its key assets, including reliever Zach Britton. That sure sounded like a team that was heading towards selling.
Maybe that was right at the time; maybe the sweep of the Rangers changed minds in the Warehouse. Maybe it was never right! Trade rumor season is fun.
Kubatko adds that the Orioles haven't given up on this season and won't be doing a 2000-like fire sale. That second thing probably won't change. If the O's start a four game losing streak tonight, the first one might budge. With six days until the deadline, it's still possible to go either direction.
Hopefully, GM Dan Duquette is prepared in case things go badly for the next several games. The 2017 track record of Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez - the next two Orioles starters - suggests that they will be farther from .500 than they already are in two days time. If they surprise us with a split or even two more wins, what then?
There will come a time where the O's hopes may not be mathematically extinguished but they are practically over. The pending deadline means they may have to decide it's over before it's officially over.
The weakness in the American League could leave that hope dangling close when the deadline arrives. It won't be an easy choice. Just please don't trade Kevin Gausman or anybody else who matters or might ever matter for the next Scott Feldman, thanks.