The Baltimore Orioles are lucky in a sense, because the Detroit Tigers are doing Dan Duquette’s work for him. I kid of course, but Detroit (who already tried to ship Rick Porcello to the O’s in exchange for J.J. Hardy) is now trying to work out a deal with the Cubs that would send Porcello to Chicago. They’ve take the liberty of including the Orioles as a third party team so to speak so as to get another shot at Hardy. I suspect that the deal would have to be amazing for the Orioles to ship Hardy out, and Dan Duquette’s already proven that he won’t sell his players for pennies on the dollar.
The Orioles threw around the idea back in December of trading for the above-mentioned Porcello, however Detroit’s asking price was Hardy and Duquette wasn’t willing to do that. At the time, my opinion was that perhaps Porcello and the Orioles could be a fit in some manner, however not at the price of J.J. Hardy. I still hold the same opinion on that. However this proposed trade would send Porcello to Chicago, Hardy to Detroit, and presumably something from Chicago (perhaps Matt Garza?) back to the Orioles. I’d still be very wary if I were Dan Duquette, however he owes it to the franchise and the fans to do his due diligence and at least listen to the offer. My prediction is that it’s an offer that he can refuse, and he will.
On another front, the Washington Nationals signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a new two-year contract yesterday. This makes first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse expendable, and the Orioles are one of the teams that are reportedly interested. Washington supposedly wants some pitching depth, specifically southpaw pitching depth. The Orioles have both Brian Matusz and Troy Patton, both of which might intrigue the Nationals.
Here’s where Dan Duquette has to be careful once again. Michael Morse is a player that could undoubtedly help the Orioles, and Washington GM Mike Rizzo knows that. So while they need some depth in their bullpen and the Orioles are in a position to help out, Rizzo might ask for just a bit more than the Orioles should be willing to give up. If they’re willing to do an even 1-for-1 swap with Morse and Matusz/Patton, I’d take that if I were Duquette. In fact, if they balked on that a bit I might even be willing to throw in a low-level pitching prospect; Washington’s prospects have been depleted a bit since they’re traded so many of them away. But if Rizzo starts asking for more than that (such as both Matusz and Patton, or perhaps a higher level prospect), that’s where Duquette needs to draw the line.
For the record, I’m not accusing Mike Rizzo of squeezing the Orioles before it happens. However based on Duquette’s attempts at wheeling and dealing thus far this off season, it appears that teams seem to feel that the Orioles will or should overpay. Buck Showalter has also said on numerous occasions that the O’s value their talent, and they expect other teams to do the same. Morse would come with two drawbacks that in theory could lower the price a bit; he’s had injury issues, and his contract is up after 2013. Presumably the O’s would look to extend Morse, however whether he would do that right away is another story. Speaking for myself, if I was Duquette I thin that would be a risk I’d be willing to take in terms of giving up either Matusz or Patton (assuming one of them would be involved in the deal).
The rumor is that there are five or six teams (including the Orioles, Tampa, and the NY Yankees) interested in Morse. Apparently Washington is particularly enamoured with some of the pitching prospects that Tampa has. A Morse-for-Matusz trade would hardly be a blockbuster, however it would shore up the Orioles’ first base spot a bit more, and it would provide a power bat in the order that the Orioles could probably use.