The Baltimore Orioles played two scoreless innings in Sarasota against Boston yesterday before the game (which was already delayed) was washed out. However the news of the day was that the O’s made a trade, sending Alex Gonzalez to Detroit in exchange for former Washington National, Steve Lombardozzi. Here’s the icing on the cake: Lombardozzi is a local product, a native of the Columbia, MD area. The Birds now have three Baltimore-area players on the active roster; catcher Steve Clevenger, pitcher Steve Johnson, and of course Lombardozzi. This means nothing per se, however it does give local fans another reason to love the Orioles, who of course have a tradition of keeping local talent local (Cal Ripken Jr. comes to mind).
So what is there to make of this trade? I’ll be honest; from the outset, this looks like a fairly lopsided trade…lopsided in the Orioles’ favor,
that is. However we can’t really judged in full until we see how things play out in the regular season. But the fact is that the Orioles sent a 37-year old third baseman that was signed to a minor league contract, to Detroit in exchange for a young guy who’s played with Washington during parts of three different seasons at the big league level. (And the kicker is that Detroit wants Gonzalez to play shortstop, and it’s unclear that he’s still going to be able to play that position.) Lombardozzi is eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season, and he’s under team control until 2018.
So in that sense it’s a pretty good deal for the Orioles, especially given the fact that we now know that Manny Machado will start the season on the DL. This gives the Orioles a lot more leeway in terms of second and third base. It allows them to possibly have Ryan Flaherty guard the hot corner and Jonathan Schoop and Lombardozzi platoon at second base, or some variation of that. The Orioles have also said that Schoop could possibly play third base while Lombardozzi and Flaherty platoon at second. Ultimately it gives them a lot more flexibility in terms of positioning certain players in certain positions.
The issue still remains as to what happens when Machado comes back, however for the time being I suspect that Buck Showalter and the O’s just want to get the season underway and worry about that when the time comes. Lombardozzi also has options remaining, so that’s another thing that works in the Orioles’ favor. Having said that, does this mean the door for Alexi Casilla? Not necessarily, but if I were a betting man (which I’m not) I’d put money on it. The Orioles yesterday also sent rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar to get an MRI on his knee, which has started to swell. Buck Showalter has emphatically said that the Orioles will not be stashing Almanzar on the DL so as to keep him away from the BoSox, however if he’s truly hurt he’ll get DL’d.
Personally I always thought that Almanzar would end up going back to Boston’s organization given the influx of infielders the Orioles already had. The O’s travel to Ft. Myers today to take on the Twins at 1 PM.