Starting Pitcher Options For The Baltimore Orioles
In Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and Ubaldo Jimenez; the Baltimore Orioles have four existing options for their 2016 rotation. What is to be determined, is who will join that quartet as the 5th starter?
(You can discuss this article on the BSL Board here.)
The leading existing options are Vance Worley, Mike Wright, and Tyler Wilson. Without anyone external being added, Worley would probably enter Spring Training as the favorite, allowing Wright and Wilson to go back to AAA Norfolk as additional depth.
Earlier today, NBC Sports / Hardball Talk noted that Yovani Gallardo is likely to decide between the Orioles, Astros, and Rockies. Quickly thereafter, that report was seemingly refuted by a MASN article which included quotes from Orioles Executive Vice-President Dan Duquette.
Duquette’s comments effectively restated what many O’s fans have articulated themselves with Gallardo. You look at the innings pitched Gallardo has provided over the last 7 years, and there is value in that durability. However, you would not be paying for that past performance. You would be paying for what you think he is capable of providing going forward. He turns 30 next month. I do think with him, the O’s rotation would have a greater chance of not completely flaming out in ’16; but that ‘value’ doesn’t make me want to sign him to an extended deal, and lose the pick. Ultimately, despite the need to improve the staff, it’s pleasing to see Duquette basically dismiss the chances of Gallardo landing in Baltimore.
For much of the Winter, BSL has argued for Free Agent Mat Latos as an option – and has also suggested the pursuit of LA Dodgers lefty Alex Wood.
There are whispers that there are potential clubhouse concerns with Latos. Personally, that bothers me little in this case. The prospective deal for him, would likely be a one year contract. Latos would be joining the O’s, in a position where he would be needing to prove himself on and off the field. If he was not effective, or he was a distraction; it would be relatively easy for the O’s to let him go. You would be signing him because in-conjunction to that limited risk, there is the potential for some upside there.
Wood would be an exciting addition, because he would be under team control through the 2019 season. He’s already had a taste of Major League success. It’s just conjecture on our part that he could even be available via trade, but it’s logical to believe it’s possible. Right now the Dodgers rotation includes Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, and Kenta Maeda. There is nothing to say LA is looking to move the Southpaw, but it’s certainly worth exploring.
As we’ve discussed Latos, and Wood repeatedly; let’s review some other potential options.
Like Wood, these suggested targets would require the O’s to make a trade.
Pursuing a trade, means a few things.
Obviously, you would have to find a willing trade partner. Here in January, are there teams that are going to want to trade an existing starter? There should be. Unfortunately for some markets, before a pitch is even thrown in the 2016 season, there is knowledge that their teams can not compete. If you are an Executive of one of those such teams, holding on to a commodity that will not impact where you finish in ’16 means little. If you value that player as part of your future, perhaps you keep them. If you believe the player won’t be there when you will have an opportunity to compete, it probably makes sense to move the player if you can obtain back cost-controlled players who have a chance to be part of your future.
So, let’s say you are the O’s and you’ve identified a player you are interested in, and it’s been determined he’s available; the next question is, “Is he obtainable for the O’s?”
Meaning said player might be on the market, but would the O’s be able to pull of a trade with the existing limitations of their Minor League system?
The Orioles would certainly be aware of the players they could potentially trade for, and those that they lack the resources to pursue. Baltimore would love to obtain Oakland’s Sonny Gray, or Atlanta’s Julio Teheran – but surely there is realization within The Warehouse that any attempt would be futile.
With that understood, who are some names that are plausibly realistic?
In Philadelphia, old friend Andy MacPhail has taken over as their President of Baseball Operations. MacPhail has hired his former Oriole employee Matt Klentak as General Manager. Since taking over, Klentak has obtained several interesting arms. Don’t see Mark Appel being moved anytime soon, but might Klentak consider sending Jeremy Hellickson, Brett Oberholtzer, or Vincent Velasquez on their way? Each would have the potential of helping the O’s in ’16. Hellickson is a Free Agent after this year. Getting multiple players with years of control in-exchange for Hellickson should be hard for Klentak to turn down.
The Cincinnati Reds are a mess. They are in an improving division, and have a roster which requires a complete overhaul. Anthony DeSclafani is under long-term team control. He looks like a guy that would be a back of the rotation starter on a contender. For the Reds, he’s as good as anything they have currently. With the idea that they need someone to start for them, maybe he’s not available. If I’m the Reds new GM Dick Williams, I’d think about moving him. You can lose 100 games with or without him. He’s not a piece you have to build around. From the O’s perspective, he’s better than what exists. If the cost is not overwhelming, interest could be warranted.
Yet another team who has gone through a recent change at GM is Colorado (Jeff Bridich is entering his 2nd year at the helm). Over the past three years, Jorge De La Rosa has made 88 starts for the Rockies. The soon-to-be 35 year-old lefty has been a mainstay in Colorado, having been part of the Rockies since 2008. Here in 2016, De La Rosa is owed $12.5M. If the O’s took on the bulk of that contract, could they get him for essentially nothing prospect wise? If the O’s gave up a decent prospect, would Colorado be willing to pay a significant portion of De La Rosa’s contract?
Like Bridich, A.J. Preller is in his 2nd year as GM. Last Winter, Preller and the San Diego Padres grabbed a lot of headlines for their acquisitions. Things did not go as planned for the team when the season began, and the Padres finished ’15 at 74-88. There are multiple San Diego starters who could be interesting adds. Tyson Ross has a lot of upside, and is not a Free Agent until ’18. He is probably in the same category as Gray, and Teheran – nice to dream about, but not overly realistic.
Andrew Cashner, and James Shields should be different stories though. While 2015 was mostly ugly for Cashner, he did make 31 starts, and give San Diego 184.2 innings. He’s also a Free Agent after ’16. Shields is 34 years old, and owed $64M over the next three years. The prospect cost for either should be manageable. With Shields, you would think you could get the Padres to eat a good portion of existing contract as well.
Out of these options, my personal preference would be to pursue trades for Hellickson, and Cashner. I believe both can help the O’s in ’16, at a cost the O’s could afford.
If Dylan Bundy, and Hunter Harvey show some health during ’16, and increase their value; I’d consider moving them at some point during the year (still would not be my preference). Right now, I wouldn’t want to move either as I believe it would be selling pennies on the dollar. Considering the health questions both have, I also question how much interest other organizations would have. For players like Hellickson, and Cashner; there is no reason why either Bundy or Harvey would need to be included in a trade package, even if the Phillies or Padres did want either.
I would also not be including 2015 Draft picks DJ Stewart, or Ryan Mountcastle as potentially available options.
Many organizations would covet Mychal Givens. I’m not looking to trade Givens right now, and certainly not for Hellickson or Cashner.
The players I would potentially make available are Chance Sisco, Jomar Reyes, Chris Lee, Trey Mancini, Christian Walker, Wright, Wilson, David Hess, Oliver Drake, Dariel Alvarez, Parker Bridwell, Mike Yastrzemski, and Tanner Scott.
So you end up with a question of, is it better to go with Worley (or Wright or Wilson) vs. trading what would be necessary to obtain Hellickson or Cashner?
To answer that, let’s look further at these three pitchers individually.
Career: 31-28, 3.79 ERA, 3.76 FIP
Most IP Ever In The Majors: 133 in 2012
Combined IP In 2015: 105.2 (71.2 in the Majors)
2015 ERA: 4.02
2015 FIP: 3.82
Career K%: 17.8%
2015 K%: 15.8%
Career BB%: 7.1%
2015 BB%: 6.8%
Career GB%: 45.3%
2015 GB%: 46.2%
Career LD%: 22.3%
2015 LD%: 20.9%
Career Swinging Strike %: 5.5%
2015 Swinging Strike %: 6.0%
Career High 4 Seam Velocity Average: 91.4 (2010)
2015 4 Seam Velocity Average: 89.0
Career: 49-48, 3.94 ERA, 4.38 FIP
Most IP Ever In The Majors: 189 in 2011
Combined IP In 2015: 152 (146 in the Majors)
2015 ERA: 4.62
2015 FIP: 4.44
Career K%: 17.6%
2015 K%: 19%
Career BB%: 7.6%
2015 BB%: 6.8%
Career GB%: 39.2%
2015 GB%: 42.4%
Career LD%: 20.4%
2015 LD%: 21.1%
Career Swinging Strike %: 9.8%
2015 Swinging Strike %: 10.3%
Career High 4 Seam Velocity Average: 91.2 (2010)
2015 4 Seam Velocity Average: 90.1
Career: 26-42, 3.59 ERA, 3.63 FIP
Most IP Ever In The Majors: 184.2 in 2015
Combined IP In 2015: 184.2
2015 ERA: 4.34
2015 FIP: 3.85
Career K%: 19.8%
2015 K%: 20.5%
Career BB%: 7.8%
2015 BB%: 8.2%
Career GB%: 49.8%
2015 GB%: 47.4%
Career LD%: 20.4%
2015 LD%: 22.7%
Career Swinging Strike %: 8.8%
2015 Swinging Strike %: 8.2%
Career High 4 Seam Velocity Average: 98 (2012)
2015 4 Seam Velocity Average: 94.9
Looking at these pitchers further, reaffirms my interest in Hellickson and Cashner, with Cashner being my preferred choice. I also have somewhat increased optimism in Worley providing some value if the O’s start the year with him.
Who is your choice?
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.
You can reach him via email at [email protected].