Could this one trade make the Orioles a World Series Favorite?

The Orioles could be this one move away from legitimate contention

The Baltimore Orioles look to add a trophy to their collection
The Baltimore Orioles look to add a trophy to their collection / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles entered the 2023 season on a high note. The Birds outperformed the expectations of many in 2022 when they finished 83-79 and were playing meaningful games in late September. The catalyst of that season was Adley Rutschman, who was the number one overall prospect when he debuted in May.

Since Rutschman's debut the Orioles have called up top prospects Gunnar Henderson (who was also the number one overall prospect when he was called), Grayson Rodriguez and more recently, Jordan Westburg and Colton Cowser. Lesser heralded prospects Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano have turned into an all-star combination at the back end of the bullpen, while younger pitchers Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer have shown flashes of dominance in the starting rotation.

These young Birds have joined star players like Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander to make a formidable lineup, while the rotation awaits the returns of Grayson Rodriguez from the Norfolk Tides and John Means from injury. The O's are currently in second place in the American League East while holding the top Wild Card spot and have the third best record in baseball entering games on 7/6/23. This team is teetering on the edge of greatness and are looking for that big push.

One team that many have speculated might be looking to break down and rebuild is the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have a lot of talent but have underperformed. They are currently 37-50 and sit in fourth place in a weak AL Central. If the White Sox are looking to unload some of their talent and start from scratch, the team with the top ranked farm system would be a great place for them to start.

Could this blockbuster trade put the Orioles into World Series contention?

Orioles receive: Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez

White Sox pitchers Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito are two of the top pitchers that could be available on the trade market. Cease is coming off of a career year that saw him finish second in Cy Young voting. In 2022, Cease tied his career high with 32 starts and set a new career high with 14 wins while posting a very good 2.20 ERA. He has a career 3.65 ERA and averages 10.8 K/9. Cease has not been able to replicate his 2022 stats this year, but he is still pitching well. Cease has only earned three wins this season but the fact that he has not received a decision in 12 of his 18 starts suggests that's not due to his poor pitching.

Giolito has been a steady pitcher for the White Sox for the last half decade. He has averaged just over 30 starts per season in each of his first four full seasons (with 12 starts in 2020) and has been top 10 in Cy Young voting twice. Lucas has a career 4.24 ERA, which is inflated by a 6.13 ERA in his first full season back in 2018 but boasts a 3.50 ERA this season. His strikeouts are down a bit from years past at 9.6 K/9 but his 2.6 BB/9 would tie a career low. Giolito, who turns 29 in a few days, has also made 18 starts so far this season and would be a solid addition to the front end of any rotation.

Eloy Jimenez could be the big power bat that the Orioles need. At 6'4 and 240 lbs, Jimenez has the power to climb Mt. Walltimore or drive the ball out of anywhere else. Jimenez has dealt with several injuries in his career, and missed time this season after having an appendectomy, but when he's healthy, he mashes. The only full season that Jimenez has stayed healthy through was his rookie campaign in 2019 that saw him hit 31 homers.

Eloy was healthy for his sophmore season in 2020 where he hit 14 homers and drove in 41 runs over 55 games in the shortened season, which put him on pace for approximately 40 home runs and 120 RBI's in a 162 game season, while he batted .296. In 84 games in 2022 Jimenez hit 16 home runs and drove in 54 RBI's while batting .295. He would fit in nicely as the Orioles primary DH.

These players could give the Orioles exactly what they need to bring the World Series Championship back to Baltimore for the first time in 40 years. But they're not going to come cheap, so brace yourselves for what comes next.

White Sox receive: Ryan Mountcastle, DL Hall, Cesar Prieto, Samuel Basallo and Heston Kjerstad

I know nobody wants to part with top prospects but let's face it, there is not room on the Orioles for all of these guys to be everyday players. Heston Kjerstad is having a tremendous season and has climbed his way to being the O's #4 prospect (#38 overall). He made the leap to Triple-A seamlessly and has been crushing the ball. Kjerstad is a fan favorite and a great story after coming back from myocarditis and return to the form that made him the second overall draft pick in 2020, but there just isn't room for him.

Even if Santander becomes a primary first base man, Kjerstad would still have to displace either Hays, Mullins or Cowser to get playing time, and he's too good to be a fourth outfielder. Kjerstad could rotate between the outfield, first base and DH in Chicago to get regular playing time.

Samuel Basallo and Cesar Prieto are in similar situations. Basallo is the Birds #8 prospect (#100 overall) and was a big international signing for the Birds in 2021, but he is not likely to replace Rutschman and would not get enough time as the second catcher. Basallo would become the #3 prospect in the White Sox organization with the potential of being the catcher of the future. Prieto is the Orioles #16 prospect but again is unlikely to break through.

With Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson already in Baltimore and Joey Ortiz trying to get back, Prieto becomes expendable. Not to mention some kid named Jackson Holliday, the number one overall prospect in baseball. As good as Prieto may be, I don't think anyone would complain about a Holliday, Henderson, Westburg infield with Ortiz as the utility player. Chicago has an aging and injured infield and Prieto could possibly start getting regular playing time there right away.

The White Sox won't give up their top two pitchers without at least one in return and DL Hall could be that guy. Hall, the Orioles #9 prospect, has elite stuff and strikeout numbers that make pitching coaches drool, but his control has been a problem. Hall made a few appearances out of the Orioles bullpen in 2022 and a cameo start in 2023 but has not been able to get a foothold in the Orioles rotation. A change of scenery could be just what Hall needs to realize his potential.

Ryan Mountcastle has been another fan favorite in Baltimore but even he might be getting squeezed out. He was a great hitter in the minors but was moved all over the place defensively until he finally stuck at first with the Orioles. He has become a good defensive first baseman, but his offense has regressed over the last two seasons. After hitting 33 homers in 2021 and getting Rookie of the Year votes for the second straight season, Mountcastle has just not been the same.

His home run total dropped to 22 in 2022 and halfway through this season he's at 11. Mountcastle is also on pace to set career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Ryan is currently rehabbing after a stint on the IL with vertigo, but in his time away Ryan O'Hearn has grabbed a hold of the first base position, and it looks like Mountcastle has at best a platoon spot waiting for him. In Chicago he could be the everyday DH while getting some time at first.

The biggest obstacle in this trade is the Cease and Giolito are on expiring contracts and we all know Orioles owner John Angelos does not want to pay players. If the Orioles are able to make this trade, they would immediately become a legitimate contender. Imagine a playoff rotation of Cease, Means, Wells, and Giolito, with Bradish, Kremer and Kyle Gibson also available. Bringing the World Series back to Baltimore would prove Angelos wrong when he said the team "overachieved and overperformed", and prove that they're just good players. That might be what it takes to get him to invest in this team.