Are the Orioles getting squeezed on the trade market? (updated)


Over the weekend we found out that the Orioles were looking to make some trades, mostly for pitching help. Dan Duquette has even chimed in on the matter to a degree, saying that he’s looking to upgrade both the rotation and the bullpen. Granted we don’t really know who’s going to be where at this point (aside from Jeremy Guthrie), however it seems that Duquette’s strategy is to bring in as many pitchers as possible to camp and see who sticks to the wall. That aside, my question is whether or not the Orioles are held to a different standard in trade talks?

In free agency we’ve heard a lot about what’s jokingly called an “Oriole tax.” In essence, the Orioles would have to pay more for free agent talent than other teams would since the Orioles aren’t considered a contender. In short, if the Orioles approach someone about a trade (or are approached about one) the trade partner knows that the Orioles are struggling so they’re going to expect more than they otherwise would in return. Whereby if two teams would trade two players straight up, if a team like the Orioles are involved the other side would expect perhaps a player and a prospect or maybe cash. Basically they’re saying we know you’re trying to get yourselves out of the gutter, but it’s going to cost you. Just look at it as a cost of doing business or an improvement fee.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Cardinals asking price for Kyle McClellan is currently too high. Flash back to December when there seemed to be a decent shot that the O’s would trade Adam Jones to Atlanta. The Braves seemed unwilling to part with Martin Prado. So it seems that there might be a little more than meets the eye to the theory that teams might try to squeeze the Orioles. Not knowing the details of what was or is on the table, for all I know it’s the O’s who are being unreasonable in these negotiations. However negotiations are just that…negotiations.

In fairness, part of this has to do with the fact that the Birds have a new GM in Dan Duquette. Many teams might think that they can pry away a decent player from the O’s for less than market value under his nose. Obviously Duquette is quickly proving that’s not necessarily the case. I found humor in the fact that teams asked about trading for Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy at the winter meetings, two of the Orioles top prospects. Regardless of where their record might be at the end of the season, the good news is that the O’s aren’t about to make trades for the sake of making trades any longer.

In the case of negotiations with the Cardinals, if anything the O’s should have a bit of an upper hand. St. Louis has apparently made no bones about the fact that they’re trying to dump salary, so if anything they should be interested in any reasonable offer that would allow them to do that with McClellan or anyone else. The idea in trades is that you don’t want to put yourself out there to get screwed over at the end of the day. We all remember the number that Andy MacPhail did on former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi which yielded Adam Jones to the O’s. While teams might be trying to get the Orioles to play the fool, the good news is that they aren’t biting.

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Update (12:30 PM): According to a tweet from, the Cardinals’ asking price for McClellan continues to be too high for the Orioles’ liking. Personally I feel that McClellan is a guy that could potentially make help the Orioles either in the rotation or bullpen, however as with all things it would have to be at the right price.