The Baltimore Orioles find themselves in a position not held since 2016 (or 2017 if you’re Dan Duquette and thought trading for Jeremy Hellickson while the house was on fire a was a good idea). With a 51-49 record after Friday night’s comeback against the Reds, the Orioles are firmly entrenched in the playoff race and are in a position to be, wait for it, buyers!
GM Mike Elias has made it clear that the long term sustainability of the club is paramount and any transactions will be made with that in mind, so a blockbuster deal in which multiple top prospects are dealt would seemingly be antithetical to that approach. A deal for Pittsburgh’s Jose Quintana, for example, would make less sense given this information.
If the Orioles add at the trade deadline, a starting pitcher would be a logical choice. As of Friday, the O’s rotation ranked 19th among MLB teams in total WAR and features a fifth starter in Austin Voth who is better suited for a long relief role. With Elias’s modus operandi in mind, which cost-controlled young pitchers could potentially be available if the Orioles were to pursue them?
3 Starting Pitchers the Orioles should consider pursuing at the trade deadline
Pablo López – Miami Marlins
Miami find themselves six games under .500 and trail the Cardinals and Phillies by six games in their quest for a National League Wild Card spot. Second Baseman Jazz Chisholm was placed on the 60-day injured list last week thanks to a stress reaction in his back. Top pitching prospect Max Meyer will undergo Tommy John Surgery after his last start came to an abrupt end. The Marlins are straight up not having a good time.
This snakebitten stretch could mean that Pablo López becomes available. The 26 year old is a steal at his current salary of $2.45 million and has two arbitration years remaining after 2022. The Venezuelan has already produced 7.7 WAR in his young career and would immediately become the Orioles best starter (besides the injured John Means, of course).
López is above average in nearly all StatCast categories and is in the 86th percentile in chase rate despite below average fastball velocity. It’s also worth noting that the Orioles and Marlins have an established rapport and have made deals with each other recently, including the deal that saw Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser leave Birdland. A prospect with the pedigree of Colton Cowser or Coby Mayo would likely be required to meet Miami’s demands, but López is a #2/#3 starter who could be of great benefit when the Orioles reach the playoffs again.
Matt Manning – Detroit Tigers
It would be ill-advised for most teams to trade a promising young starter, but this is the Tigers we’re talking about. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has reported that they’re willing to listen to offers for lefty phenom Tarik Skubal, so who’s to say Manning couldn’t be had for the right price?
The 24-year old former top prospect doesn’t reach arbitration until 2025 and is under team control until 2027, making Manning an ideal fit for what GM Mike Elias describes as a “global approach” to building the next contending Orioles team.
Manning doesn’t come without risk, however. He’s currently rehabbing a shoulder injury that hasn’t allowed him to pitch for the Tigers since mid-April and has yet to establish himself at the major league level, but the mid 90’s fastball and two potentially above-average breaking pitches make Manning an intriguing trade option.
Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds
Luis Castillo was another Reds pitcher considered a fit for the Orioles before he was dealt to the Mariners on Friday, but Mahle could also be a fit considering that he’s two years Castillo’s junior, makes slightly less money, and would presumably cost less to acquire via trade.
The 27 year old righty has an unassuming 4.48 ERA, but don’t let that fool you; Mahle’s 3.78 FIP is in line with previous seasons, his strikeout and walk rates are largely unchanged, and the defense playing behind him ranks 26th in Outs Above Average. Mahle has one arbitration year left before being eligible for free agency but with the abundance of cost-controlled, pre-arbitration players on the Orioles roster, the club could ostensibly afford to extend him should his performance warrant it.