The MLB trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and the Orioles have pulled one of their most valuable trade chips, shortstop J.J. Hardy, off the table. With a three-year extension, Hardy isn't likely to be dealt at the July 31 deadline. But the new contract -- well-deserved, by the way -- doesn’t make him untouchable.
Each team has a few players who are off-limits in trade negotiations, and some will argue that no player is truly invaluable and untouchable. But which current Orioles players and prospects fall into that category?
A year or two ago, Nick Markakis did. But despite being a fine player, he hasn’t become that franchise player the Orioles hoped he would become when they signed him to a lucrative contract extension. Do I think the right fielder is going to be traded? It’s doubtful, but they should certainly listen to offers for him.
Another player who I think is on the untouchable bubble is Adam Jones, who made a pretty good case for inclusion in the All-Star Game during the season’s first half. He has been Baltimore’s best player so far, hitting for average and power while making some spectacular plays in center field, but Jones hasn’t yet become a superstar -- and may never. It would take a heck of a lot for me to trade away Jones, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
Sorry to go all Keith Law on you, but the Orioles need to restock their farm system to compete over the long haul. If they can get a few prized prospects for Jones or Markakis, that would be a start.
So who do I think is untouchable? It’s a short list.
I wouldn’t trade either of the team’s top young pitchers, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. Both have been sent down to the minors -- for different reasons -- but Andy MacPhail is right in that you have to develop pitchers to be successful, especially in the AL East. (But unfortunately, MacPhail hasn’t grown them as quickly as hoped.) Britton and Matusz will one day be front-of-the-rotation starters.
Manny Machado is one of baseball's top prospects and a possible heir to Cal Ripken’s legacy at short, so I’m not giving him away.
And Matt Wieters is the other player who is untouchable in my book. He might be the best defensive catcher in baseball and he has clicked with the Orioles’ young pitchers. He also is, at the very least, a plus player offensively. He hasn’t shown the kind of power that scouts predicted, but if you trade him away and he taps into that power elsewhere, you will soon be looking for a new job.
(MacPhail might already be, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, I want to know who is on your untouchable list.
Your turn: Which Orioles players and prospects are untouchable?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun