February 27, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy (49) throws a pitch in the third inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles face tough decisions with young talent.

The Baltimore Orioles currently sit three games ahead of both the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees and find themselves as potential buyers before the July 31 trade deadline. As many fans likely desire a front-line starting pitcher, or a star second baseman or catcher, the right approach for the O’s may be to pass on those types of moves.

The Cliff Lee’s and David Price’s of the world would certainly be nice additions to the Orioles’ mediocre rotation, but steep prices stand in the way. Do the Orioles go all-in for 2014 while the usually rugged AL East is at its weakest in years? Or should they hold on to their young stars to prolong their recent run of success?

Recent rumors have tied the Orioles to A.J. Burnett and Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies, Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies and Huston Street of the Padres. Members of the media have additionally attached the Orioles to other notable players like Cliff Lee and Chase Utley of the Phillies, and even Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

The Orioles could improve at catcher, second and in their starting rotation. But it may not be worth parting with constantly rumored prospects such as Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Hunter Harvey.

Last year, the Orioles gambled on players like Scott Feldman and Michael Morse, and lost a few of their better young players for what turned out to be rentals. They can’t afford to make the same mistake this season.

Yes, they are in first place. Yes, the Yankees and Blue Jays could make big splashes in the trade market to gain ground on the O’s. And yes, the Orioles do have the young players necessary to pull off a blockbuster deal.

Unfortunately, many current Oriole stars are potentially nearing the end of their time in Baltimore. It is unlikely the Orioles will pick up Nick Markakis’ pricy $17.5 Million 2015 club-option, and there has been no indication that J.J. Hardy or Nelson Cruz will re-sign with the Orioles at the end of the year. Following the 2015 season, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters may also test the free-agent market.

Many use the previous list of players that may leave the Orioles as evidence that the Orioles’ window for success may be closing. Alright then, why would they make matters worse by dealing away their future?

If Dan Duquette and the front office get overly aggressive and ship off their best prospects for short-term rentals, their farm system and major league roster after 2015 may wind up looking like those from the mid-2000s.

The Orioles already sacrificed the early rounds of the 2014 First Year Player Draft for Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, so their farm system has already slowed a bit in regards to further development.

They should have one eye on this season, with the other eye on the future. The Orioles suffered for far too long to let all those “rebuilding” years culminate into a four year run of success. Holding on to the young talent they currently have may pave the way for an even longer run of contending.

What do you think? Should the Orioles hold on to their star prospects, or should they sacrifice the future for a 2014 World Series run?

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Dylan Bundy

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