This past week was a bit of a whirlwind for Baltimore Orioles fans – and Baltimore sports fans in general. Besides Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leaving town, Haloti Ngata of the Ravens was dinged for PED use. When it rains it pours I suppose. However that aside, how do the Orioles move on from this point? I would submit that Cruz might be easier to replace than Markakis – if only because it was almost a foregone conclusion that Cruz wouldn’t be here in 2015. Markakis’ absence is more of a surprise.
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The two names that we’ve heard have been Matt Kemp and Justin Uptown (who ironically plays in Atlanta right now). Both players would need to be acquired via trade, so the question is whether or not Dan Duquette would be willing to give up what’s necessary to get them. Kemp has been rumored to be on San Diego’s radar as well, however I digress. Kemp’s career numbers probably line up well with Markakis’, if not a bit better. And the same can be said for Upton; so…are one of these guys destined for Baltimore?
It’s tough to say at this point. However I would remind fans that the Orioles would probably have to give up big league talent to get either one. So in effect that might fill a hole by creating a new one. Or would it? As I’ve said a few times already this off season, the Orioles are expecting to get Dylan Bundy back in 2015 after Tommy John surgery. Could the O’s conceivably deal a starter (such as Miguel Gonzalez or Bud Norris) and pencil Bundy into the rotation?
I would submit that while the O’s certainly found themselves in a precarious position with Markakis bolting, they’re also in a position of power with regard to pitching when it comes to replacing him. I’m not suggesting that they should deal Bundy, although they should listen to any offer that’s made. But he gives them some depth when it comes to pitching. Previously I thought they might be able to use him in Andrew Miller‘s role as an eighth inning shutdown guy, however that was presuming that they wouldn’t have to replace Markakis. Now they might have to get inventive.
The other option is that the Orioles currently have Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez in their minor league system. Urrutia, you’ll remember, spent some time with the O’s in 2012. Alvarez is a prospect on whom Dan Duquette is really big. The Cuban defector has hit .311 since he’s been in the Orioles’ minor league system. My personal opinion is that Alvarez is someone that might have gotten a September call-up in 2015, but more realistically would have been earmarked for 2016 more than anything else. But will circumstances dictate the Orioles calling one or both of those guys up now?
This is something we’re just going to have to watch play out over the course of the off season. Call it a gut feeling or whatever you will, but my prediction is that they go after someone along the lines of Kemp or Upton. Time will tell.