It is obvious the Orioles are having trouble with starting pitching. By Chris Tillman giving up six runs today, his ERA on the year is up to an unimpressive 4.69. If the Orioles want to make a run for the postseason this year, they are going to have to acquire a true ace.
Baltimore needs a pitcher who can go at least seven innings every outing and someone who, when he is out there on the mound, makes everyone around him better from the bullpen to the utility players on the bench.
I see the Orioles have two options that are realistic in obtaining.
The first is David Price. With his ERA at the highest it has been since 2009, I truly believe the Rays are going to dump him.
Price is a luxury the Rays cannot afford. Harold Reynolds said on MLB Network just last week that he would be shocked if Price was still on the Rays’ roster by the All Star Break. With a need for more minor league talent, I foresee the Rays parting ways with their former Cy Young Award winner.
The other option and an option the Orioles would be hard-pressed in passing by is the Cubs’ ace, Jeff Samardzija. With his 1.68 ERA, which is second lowest in the MLB next to Adam Wainwright (1.67), the Cubs are going to have to trade him soon before his ERA goes up any more.
Although he is their best pitcher in the organization, the Cubs still find themselves in last place. They need players who can hit and hit consistently. The Cubs also need to improve their bullpen as well.
Obviously, the Orioles will not be able to obtain one of these pitching studs with just a second or first round draft pick in the upcoming years. These teams want somebody who is going to be a star for them and contribute almost immediately after signing his new contract with either the Rays or the Cubs.
With that being said, it comes down to the Orioles asking themselves, “What are we willing to give up?” Due to how much of an impact he has been for the team this year, Nelson Cruz cannot leave Baltimore. However, there are some players in the line up that I believe the Orioles can move forward without.
Nick Markakis. I know I will probably get a lot of flack for saying that but I think it is true. I see the Orioles as a team that can move Cruz over to right field and then bring up Francisco Peguero from Norfolk to play left. Although Markakis does have .295 average this year and just recently moved into eighth place for most hits all-time with the Baltimore Orioles, he does have his weaknesses.
In the field, Markakis never appears comfortable moving back on the ball. Along with this, he is not a power hitter. He will mainly only get you singles. This is a player that, however unfortunate because he has been with the team for so long, is expendable.
Another player the Orioles may have to give up is one of their good relievers. I have not the slightest clue as to which one, but if the Orioles want Samardzija, they are going to have to give up a big name like Darren O’Day who has a 0.90 ERA and a 2-0 record this year.
If the Orioles really want Price, I can see them also offering up their #13 prospect Christian Walker. Walker is on a tear this year with the Bowie Baysox in Double-A. Hitting .330 with a .390 on-base percentage this season, Walker is a very promising player. Also driving the ball for 14 “round trippers” already this season, Walker has proved to be a power hitter.
In summary, if the Orioles want Price, I see them starting the trade talk by offering Markakis and Walker. If the Orioles want Samardzija, I see them offering Markakis and a top quality reliever like O’Day for starts and other possible prospects like Mike Wright and Kevin Gausman to follow. If Baltimore was able to land one of these two pitchers, what they would be gaining would far outweigh would they would be giving up.