1. Will the Orioles make a trade this month?
The sense is yes. Executive vice president Dan Duquette has established a reputation for making moves. Small moves, medium moves, and even a couple big ones this offseason in the signings of prominent free agents Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Duquette's never going to show his hand. But he's in the market for pitching, whether it's to strengthen a strength with another power arm for the bullpen or to deepen the rotation, preferably with a second left-hander.
It won't be easy to add a top starter; those potentially on the market will be highly coveted and likely would cost two of the organization's four best pitching prospects: Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Tampa Bay Rays' David Price probably isn't an option due to the divisional rivalry, plus I'm not convinced he'll be dealt until this offseason. To pry Chris Sale away from the Chicago White Sox will take an incredible haul. Sale is owed just under $30 million through the next three-plus seasons with affordable options through 2019. A 25-year-old star left-hander with that kind of club control is among the rarest of commodities.
The Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee is always discussed this time of year, but he has been hurt and is owed $25 million in 2015 with a $27.5 million option for 2016 that could vest.
That's why the Orioles are seemingly looking a notch below for starting help. They have scouted Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a free agent at year's end. And they probably will continue to kick the tires on every potentially available starter, including the San Diego Padres' Ian Kennedy and the Minnesota Twins' Kevin Correia, among others.
Frankly, what the Orioles have in-house may be better than the affordable trade targets, and so Duquette may focus more on adding a reliever, especially one with minor league options.
Unfortunately for Duquette, he thought he already had his midseason pitching addition locked up in February when he signed former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to a minor league deal. But Santana, who was making progress rehabbing from shoulder surgery, tore his Achilles tendon in June and is out for the year.
The Orioles could attempt to bolster their offense, but the only starting spots in question are catcher and second base. Duquette made his move behind the plate in May, dealing for Nick Hundley to help replace starter Matt Wieters (elbow surgery). Duquette said he's happy with the catching combination of Hundley and rookie Caleb Joseph.
Upgrading at second base is tricky because rookie Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty both have played well defensively, especially in turning the double play. And Showalter doesn't want to weaken his defense for an offensive upgrade. So they'd have to find someone who can do both; very few available second basemen fit that profile. (Jim Rogash, Getty Images /April 18, 2014)
I would want a decent-sized break in the middle if I played baseball every day from March to October too, but since I don't, I can fairly say that this week is unbearable and I'm glad sports are back tonight. You can tell how little has happened in the past day by all the analysis found in the Coffee Companion, where we recap the previous day's sports headlines.
- The Orioles open the second half with three games in Oakland, the team that was responsible for Manny Machado’s reputation taking a hit but ultimately might have also sparked his turnaround this year. Machado says he is over the incident. He may still want to duck.
- Dan Connolly looked at five questions about the second half, including trade possibilities for the Orioles and what the team needs to do to make the playoffs.
- Ravens free agent safety Darian Stewart is entering camp as a leading candidate for a starting job, Aaron Wilson writes. Aaron also highlighted Justin Forsett, a key part of the Ravens’ contingency plans for a Ray Rice suspension.
- Jeff Zrebiec’s positional preview turns to offensive lineman, which he says is difficult to predict.
- Forbes said earlier this week that the Ravens are the 19th-most valuable sports franchise in the world, valued at $1.227 and better than the Steelers.
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