2 trade deadline moves Orioles should already be eyeing, 1 they must avoid

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

On Wednesday night, the Blue Jays came very close to snapping the Orioles' historic two-year sweep-less streak with a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Baltimore had already lost Game 1 of just a two-game set the night before by a single run, and they looked like they were on the brink of another loss until Adley Rutschman, the peoples' hero, walked things off on a two-run home run.

The Orioles improved to a .659 win percentage, the third-best in MLB and just one win behind the Yankees for the top of the AL East. There's no denying that the O's are in pretty good shape, all things considered, but the last few series have exposed a few cracks.

We're still two months and some change removed from the trade deadline, but it's never too early to start thinking about necessary additions.

2 trade deadline moves Orioles should already be eyeing

Trade for a closer to replace Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel was removed as the Orioles' closer last week, after back-to-back two blown saves and two more nearly blown opportunities. On May 10, the team put him in to pitch a clean seventh, then he returned to the same a few days later after a successful closing job in between. The Orioles will probably continue to use him in a closer capacity here and there, but his days as the closer seem over for now.

It's a fine enough short-term solution, but Baltimore will need a replacement as the season gets into the late summer. Despite the recent disappointments, Kimbrel hasn't made himself altogether un-trade-able, and the Orioles could opt to keep him as a middle reliever if they can't find any takers.

Either way, Athletics fireballer Mason Miller, who currently leads MLB's relievers in ERA at 0.98, could be an option. Although the A's have been performing better than anyone could've guessed, the franchise is a sinking ship for a lot of external reasons, and they could be willing to accept an odd discount in return for Miller (because when have they ever been normal?). He's "just a reliever," after all. At the very least, the Orioles have enough prospect depth to dictate their own fate here (and know their own prospects better than anyone else, especially Oakland).

Acquire another starter to bolster pitching depth

When Grayson Rodriguez went onto the IL on April 30, the Orioles' rotation went from five men to four, and the team was left without a viable long relief/opener options in the bullpen and either struggling or evidently not-quite-ready pitching prospects in the pipeline. Chayce McDermott hasn't looked great over eight starts in Triple-A, and Cade Povich, who's been doing a lot better, probably would've been called up already if the Orioles thought he was ready.

Rodriguez and Tyler Wells are only on the 15-day IL, but Wells has been there since mid-April and both are without updates on a timeline to return. Both John Means and Kyle Bradish are relatively fresh off the IL themselves, leaving starting pitching depth tapped out.

Jesús Luzardo, stuck on the sure-to-be-sellers Marlins, is likely to be the hottest pitcher on the table at the trade deadline. The Marlins have already lost Eury Pérez and Sandy Alcantara, have the worst winning percentage in MLB at .289, and their manager has one foot out the door, so all signs point to a fire sale. Despite a rough start to the 2024 season, Luzardo will be Miami's strongest bargaining chip while we approach the deadline based on his track record over the past two seasons.

1 trade deadline move Orioles must avoid

Adding position players

Although pitching depth is a problem for Baltimore, offensive depth certainly isn't. If anything, the Orioles have too many cooks in the kitchen that they could (or should) turn into trade chips to help the rotation and bullpen. While any of their young players or top prospects are unlikely to go anywhere, the Orioles still have veterans in Austin Hays, Ramon Urías and Jorge Mateo that they could send away. It might even be good for the O's slumping vets to play for a team without top prospects breathing down their necks at all times. Ryan O'Hearn, who's been absolutely lethal at the plate this year, seemed like a potentially expendable part in spring training, but has likely made himself essential.

Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado, and Paul Goldschmidt are looking like they could be some of the biggest trade candidates of the season, but the Orioles shouldn't go near them. They've already had to shuffle things to accommodate Jackson Holliday and Heston Kjerstad, however short their stints in the majors might've been, and they still have Coby Mayo and Connor Norby waiting in the wings for their MLB debuts.

The name of the game for Baltimore at the trade deadline should be pitching. While it could look nice to have superstars like Alonso, Arenado, or Goldschmidt in the lineup on paper, even for just a few months, a trade for any would definitely require some unnecessary reworking of the Orioles' long-term plans.

manual