One could say the Baltimore Orioles took care of two birds with one stone today as they traded from an area of surplus while adding to an area of need as the Orioles sent Yovani Gallardo to the Mariners for outfielder Seth Smith.
The Baltimore Orioles needs have been known for some time. What has also been known is that the Orioles carried a surplus of starting pitchers. Dan Duquette did the logical thing by trading a starter in Yovani Gallardo for left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith. This is a move that helps the Orioles in a few different ways.
First, the Orioles resolve their starting pitcher surplus problem by trading away one of them. Gallardo was a disappointment for the Birds going 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA in 2016. In addition, Gallardo missed time due to shoulder discomfort. The Orioles starting staff, while not set in stone, seems pretty clear with Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley filling out the rotation.
Next, the Orioles were able to acquire an outfielder without trading away one of their talented bullpen pieces. While there is no guarantee Duquette won’t swing another deal for a bullpen pitcher, I feel it’s less likely that he will do another deal and instead fill out the roster with free agent signings.
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Also, the addition of Seth Smith provides more clarity on the outfield situation. As things stand right now, the Orioles would platoon Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard in left field while Adam Jones would handle center field duties and Seth Smith right field duties. Now, let me be clear. The Orioles are not finished filling out their outfield. Not by a long shot. Seth Smith is a nice player, but he has accumulated over 400 at bats just twice in 10 seasons with the Rockies, Athletics and Mariners. He is a career .272 hitter against righties, but just .202 against lefties. The Birds will sign or acquire another right-handed hitting outfielder before the beginning of the season.
The right-handed hitting outfield options are limited assuming the Orioles want an impact bat. Switch-hitting outfielder Angel Pagan could be an interesting option. He has a penchant for getting on base and hits lefties at a .267 clip in his career – much better than Smith’s .202.
Michael Saunders is another option. While the right-handed hitter is only a .233 lifetime hitter against lefties, he did hit .275 against them last year. Saunders can also play both corner outfield spots allowing him to get a high number of at bats during the year.
Dare I say it, but Jose Bautista is a career .264 hitter against lefties. I do not see this as a logical move for the Orioles at this time.
The other possibility is a trade that could bring a corner outfielder to Baltimore. This could be the most likely option given the limited amount of quality free agent outfield targets remaining. In any case, I still think that in addition to adding another outfielder, the Orioles will sign Mark Trumbo.
Zach Stewart Still Not Official
I still have no word that the Orioles have officially inked a deal for Korean Baseball Organization pitcher Zach Stewart. However, I have confirmed that when the deal is done, it will be a minor league deal which makes a heck of a lot of sense.
For Dan Duquette, it appears the offseason may finally be kicking into gear. The Orioles don’t have many pieces to fill, but they could be high dollar / high value pieces. An outfielder and a designed hitter are the targets that remain. Others could be added as well, but one outfielder and one designated hitter are the glaring needs.