Late yesterday afternoon MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Baltimore Orioles had expressed interest in trading for Justin Upton. To be quite honest, San Diego’s 27-year old right fielder is exactly the guy for whom the Orioles have been searching all season to this point. With that said, he’s only hitting .252 on the year, with 15 home runs.
So from the outset, there might be some folks who would argue that he wouldn’t exactly be a huge uptick in what the Orioles already have. However keep in mind that Showalter’s big on someone’s overall body of work. This has been Upton’s first year in San Diego, and presumably his last given the fact that he’s in a contract year. He’s a career .273 hitter, and has been playing in a pitcher’s paradise at Petco Park. You do the math.
I think that Upton would play very well at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He
Courtesy of Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
obviously played for some time in Atlanta as well – another pitcher’s park. But if you put him in a park like Camden Yards, I think his numbers would be much higher. The risk for the Orioles of course is that Upton’s in a contract year, so his services are only guaranteed throughout the remainder of the 2015 season.
Again, according to MLB Trade Rumors, the Birds are also interested in Carlos Gomez of Milwaukee. While Gomez is only hitting .268 on the year, it’s a similar situation given the fact that he plays at Miller Park which favors hitters. Let me be clear, Gomez is a great player and his skill set would be welcomed by the Orioles as things stand now. But there’s one problem…
…whether or not his personality would mesh well is another story. Gomez has a reputation for being somewhat brash at times. Whether or not he would be someone that would fit into the Orioles’ clubhouse would remain to be seen. He’s a great talent, and he has blazing speed on the base paths. But would he spoil an atmosphere of togetherness and unity that exists within the Orioles’ operation?
Some people are going to say that’s a weak argument for not acquiring a player that could help the team. And perhaps it is for all I know. The Orioles have had “issues” in the past, most notably last season in the Machado/Donaldson incident. However I think that was more of a momentary lapse in judgement on Machado’s part, and it was handled in house by some of the veterans on the team. However would they be able to reign in a guy like Gomez, or would it cause a rift in the clubhouse?
These are all questions that one has to ask when talking about trades and player acquisitions. Incidentally, on the flip side Gomez would have one big advantage over Upton: he’s under team control until after the 2017 season. As I said above, Upton is a free agent after this season is up.
However both for the attitude that would come with Gomez as well as the contract situation, I would go with Upton if I were Dan Duquette looking to trade for one of those two. First off, Upton is going to come cheaper because of the fact that he’s a free agent after the season is over. However the Orioles also have Dariel Alvarez, who’s gaining seasoning in the minors right now. Since Markakis left, I believe he’s always been thought of as the long-term solution in right field.
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That’s just an opinion, however if the Orioles were to trade for Justin Upton, he would help them immediately. Then Alvarez could potentially get a September call-up, and thus immediately begin the process of getting used to playing at the big league level. Depending on how he looks in Spring Training next year, he could then be the starting right fielder in 2016. (Incidentally this scenario could also play out with Carlos Gomez if the Birds traded for him.)
Regardless of whether or not Upton or Gomez is a serious target, price is something that has to be considered. Do the O’s have the necessary pieces to send out in exchange for someone like either one of them? One alternative to the Upton/Alvarez scenario above might be for the Orioles to work out a sign-and trade deal with San Diego in the sense that they could sign Upton to an extension and immediately trade him to the Orioles – for Dariel Alvarez.
Many people are going to read that and say that the Birds would be depleting their farm system if they did that. However keep in mind that they also have quite a few notable pending free agents this upcoming winter. All of them are expected to receive qualifying offers, which means that unless some or all of them end up staying with the Orioles, the Birds will get supplemental draft picks next year.
Certainly the Orioles didn’t draft guys like Dariel Alvarez or anyone else in the minor leagues with the purpose of trading them. However given the state of the AL East, it’s anyone’s division. One nip here and a tuck there might put someone over the top in terms of winning the division. And once you get into the playoffs, all bets are off. Needless to say, this is the year for the Orioles to go for it.
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