As the Orioles get ready to head back to Progressive Field to finish their series with the Cleveland Indians tonight, I’m reminded that the non-waiver trade deadline is exactly one week away. Dan Duquette has said on numerous occasions that the Orioles would be buyers this year; and why not, with how the past five games have gone?! One thing that I kept hearing over the weekend was that this year’s “trade season” would be an interesting one in that there were quite a few teams that were expected to be buyers, but not as many sellers as in the past. The laws of supply and demand tell us that in a case like that the price will go up for the players that are moved. Teams that are selling (such perhaps as the Milwaukee Brewers with Zack Greinke) are going to ask for talen that’s ready for the big league’s today, or teams’ top prospects.
Earlier this month ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado the #2 and #3 prospects in the minor leagues right now (respectively). Dan Duquette has all but said that Bundy and Machado are off limits, and he’s certainly not the only GM saying such things. It seems that all teams are hesitant to trade away the top prospects now moreso than ever. Part of the reason that the Orioles have lost for 14 years straight is due to the fact that they ceased to develop A-List talent in their minor league system. Consequently, look at what’s happened to the Seattle Mariners since they traded away their top prospect (named Adam Jones) a few years ago for a pitcher. That’s not to say that your top prospects are always untouchable, because I think that everything does in fact have a price. If a Josh Hamilton-like player were offered to the Orioles for one of those prospects, I’d say go for it. However that’s unlikely, so it’s not worth delving into.
However other teams aren’t stupid; they know that the Orioles have Bundy and Machado bubbling in their farm system. Duquette was asked about both of them on numerous occasions at the winter meetings last December, which I felt showed some audacity on the part of opposing teams. I suppose there’s always the whole you never know until you ask idea, however asking for prospects of those proportions seems a bit brash in my opinion. Yet everything that I’ve heard seems to indicate that teams aren’t looking to talk to the Orioles unless one or both of those prospects is in play. Is that…fair?
The Orioles don’t have much in the way of trade chips; certainly I think they’d consider moving Mark Reynolds, Kevin Gregg, and perhaps a few others if they could. However those guys just don’t have much value on the trade market. So first off teams know that the Orioles don’t have too much to offer. So they’re in effect going jugular and mandating the organization’s top prospects be involved in a trade. Which brings me to my real point; does the presence of two top five prospects hurt the Orioles? Again, other teams know that the Orioles want to win now. However the Orioles also don’t want to mortgage the future, which is represented by Bundy and Machado. Opposing teams really don’t care about the Orioles’ future, so they’re trying to make things tough on the O’s. We’ll send a great player your way in the here and now, if you send us Bundy/Machado. They don’t care about LJ Hoes, Jonathan Schoop, or Nick Exposito. They care about Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.
In no way am I suggesting that the Orioles should trade one of them, or that having them is a bad thing. However what I’m saying is that it gives teams leverage to ask for them given that they’re both top five prospects. I don’t believe that the type of “magic deal” necessary for the Orioles to part with a prospect of that magnitude will come along. But again, teams know that the talent level of the Orioles’ prospects falls off a lot after Bundy and Machado, so they have the opprotunity to ask for them. Here’s a wild card for you in terms of this year’s “trade season”: Xavier Avery. Keep in mind that Avery’s been in the big leagues a couple of times with the O’s this year, and has shown some very positive flashes. Might Duquette market Avery to a team that might look for some speed or enthusiasm? Throw in some other prospects, and you might have something!
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