Let me be frank; this isn’t the greatest title in the world. But it’s an interesting question I think. Dan Duquette has spoken to lots of teams thus far this off season regarding potential trades, but obviously nothing of substance has happened yet. That has fans in a bit of an uproar, however I would still caution that it’s very early. Last year I found it extremely odd and almost insulting that other teams were asking about the trade availability of the likes of Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy. At the time, they were the top prospects in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization. Machado of course is probably in the bigs to stay, and Bundy had a cup of coffee this past September. That said, should the Birds entertain trade talks about their top prospects?
I know of many people that would say yes, and in doing so they often cite the whole win now or what have you done for me lately attitude. Especially with the upheaval we’ve seen around the AL East thus far since the end of the season, many people are saying that the Orioles need to do whatever is necessary to compete in 2013. But I would submit that the long term viability and health of any organization or company is more important than that in the interim. So I would agree with Dan Duquette’s stance that the Orioles should build through the draft by stockpiling young talent and working them through the farm system.
With that in mind, yesterday I came out in favor of the Orioles signing free agent Adam LaRoche, which would cost the team it’s first round draft pick (24th overall). That’s certainly a risk that stands in stark contrast with building through the draft. However it’s a calculated risk; if that was a top five or ten pick I wouldn’t be in favor of it at all. But for the most part (and I’ll really stress the fact that there are exceptions to everything) you aren’t going to find a talent with the potential of a Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, or Kevin Gausman with the 24th pick. So the Orioles would in effect be using that 24th pick to draft a gold glove first baseman that’ll put 30 homers on the board each year. Good draft pick so far as I’m concerned.
It’s calculated risks like that which the Orioles should be taking. The Orioles traded two prospects with very little upside over the summer to Philadephia for Jim Thome. Again, good move; Thome brought experience and leadership to the Orioles’ clubhouse, and I feel that was a huge part of their run to the postseason. However that’s a far cry from trading your top prospects away in a move that merely satisfies instant gratification. Let’s say for just a moment that Dan Duquette had pulled the trigger on a trade that involved Manny Machado last winter. Forgetting for just a moment whatever the Orioles would have gotten in return, does anyone out there think that the net result of 2013 wouldn’t have been different? Machado’s contract was purchased in August, and he made an instant impact on the Orioles for the remainder of the season. If he’s traded somewhere else, I suspect the O’s fall just short of the postseason in 2012.
I suppose what I’m also saying is that for people who want the O’s to make a deal today, we don’t know what’s being offered. Could the Orioles have had James Shields as opposed to him going to Kansas City? Probably, however I suspect they would have had to give up either Gausman or Bundy. Furthermore when it comes to trades (and free agency for that matter) you don’t totally know what you’re getting in that the guy might not mesh well in your clubhouse. Need I remind people about Albert Belle and Glen Davis? So with that said wouldn’t it be better to simply build through the draft in general, while taking a few calculated risks here and there?