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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles are trading another veteran

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High-priced righty Alex Cobb wasn’t a fit for a rebuilding club. Now, he’s reportedly headed to the Angels.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

In recent weeks, we’ve done plenty of prospect-fawning when it comes to the Orioles’ rapidly improving farm system, which now boasts some of the best youngsters in baseball. With talented players like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall and others on the rise, the future of the Orioles looks promising.

The present, though? Well, it’s going to be ugly. And the 2021 Orioles season may have gotten a little bit uglier with yesterday’s reports that the Birds are close to dealing veteran starter Alex Cobb to the Angels.

The trade makes sense from the Orioles’ perspective, of course. Cobb is 33 years old and entering the final season of an ill-advised four-year contract that will pay him $15 million in 2021. He and his contract have no place on a rebuilding non-contender, and it seemed only a matter of time — whether now or before the July 31 trade deadline — that Cobb would be on his way out the door to any team that was interested.

As of this writing, the trade hasn’t been made official and there are some details to be worked out, but the O’s are expected to absorb more than half of Cobb’s salary while receiving infield prospect Jahmai Jones, the Angels’ No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. It’s a deal that further bolsters the Birds’ farm system while helping them shave payroll; with the trade of Cobb, the O’s have only five players on their active roster — and no pitchers — who are making $1 million or more in 2021.

So, yes, it’s a trade that the Orioles absolutely should make. Still, it does open a hole in the rotation that the O’s need to fill if they want to avoid rushing prospects like Zac Lowther or Michael Baumann to the majors. The Birds could sign a bargain-basement veteran starter or two as a stopgap, like they did last winter with Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc (who are both available again!). Probably none would be quite as good a pitcher as Cobb was at his best, but then again, Cobb was rarely at his best in an Orioles uniform.

He’ll be reunited with his former teammates Dylan Bundy and Jose Iglesias, both of whom the Birds also traded to the Angels within the past 14 months. He’ll also be reunited with his former Rays manager, Joe Maddon. Good luck to Cobb, who seems like a good guy who just never saw things pan out in his time in Baltimore.

Links

Breaking down the Orioles’ decision to deal away Alex Cobb – The Athletic
Dan Connolly, who first reported the trade, details everything we know so far about who’s involved and why. Jones is an interesting addition, and he comes from a family of athletes. Plus, the O’s have had good luck with players named Jones in recent years.

Questions abound as report dates near - School of Roch
We’re only two weeks away from the scheduled pitchers and catchers reporting date and there’s still a ton we don’t know about this upcoming season. Don’t worry, guys, we can count on Rob Manfred to have a thoughtful, well-planned strategy for whatever comes up. (...That was sarcasm, folks.)

Top 5 debut seasons in Orioles history - Orioles.com
The top entry on this list is pretty obvious — it’s hard to beat winning a Triple Crown and leading your team to a World Series championship in your first year in Baltimore. But plenty of other Orioles have had spectacular debut seasons, too.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have six Orioles birthday buddies, including three of the 50 greatest O’s of all time as decided by Camden Chat: Melvin Mora, Don Buford, and Scott Erickson.

Mora, ranked 20th, turns 49 today; he spent a decade in Baltimore and was a valuable, versatile player, posting two All-Star seasons and an MVP-caliber 2004 campaign. Buford (ranked 30th), a speed and on-base specialist, amassed a .385 OBP in five years with the Birds. He turns 84 today. And Erickson snuck onto the end of the list at No. 50, thanks to his durable work in those late-1990s Orioles rotations. He turns 53 today but is probably in no mood to celebrate, as two days ago he was charged with reckless driving in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

Three other ex-Orioles with birthdays today are 2015 outfielder Travis Snider (33), and left-handed relievers Paul Kilgus and Pat Clements, who both turn 59.

Historically, Feb. 2 has been a day for the Orioles to make terrible trades with the Cubs. On this day in 2009, they acquired lefty Rich Hill. They only gave up cash considerations to get him, but in hindsight, they should’ve kept their money. Hill struggled to a horrific 7.80 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) for the Birds, posting a -1.2 WAR. Remarkably, Hill rejuvenated his career in his late 30s and was still an active player as of 2020, going 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in eight starts for the Twins.

And on this date in 2005, the Birds made the poor decision to trade for embattled former MVP Sammy Sosa, who had worn out his welcome in Chicago after once being one of baseball’s biggest stars and most fearsome sluggers. In one season with the Orioles, Sosa batted just .221/.295/.376 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs. Sosa was out of baseball two years later, while two players the O’s traded for him, Jerry Hairston and Mike Fontenot, lasted in MLB until 2012.