By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
8:31 PM EDT, July 31, 2011
After making two deals Saturday, the Orioles and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail held on to the rest of their potential chips as Sunday's annual nonwaiver trade deadline passed.
"I would say it was pretty quiet today, which was to be expected," MacPhail said. "We had come in with the idea of doing things that we were able to accomplish."
On Saturday afternoon, MacPhail sent reliever Koji Uehara and $2 million to the Texas Rangers for two 25-year-old major leaguers, first baseman Chris Davis and right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter.
A few hours later, the Orioles shipped Derrek Lee and potential cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Single-A first baseman Aaron Baker.
No other moves were made, meaning starter Jeremy Guthrie will most likely remain with the Orioles this season.
"There's no relief. It never crossed my mind," said Guthrie, who, along with Uehara, was considered the club's most intriguing available piece. "I feel like I have a relatively decent understanding of how the game works, and I felt for months now that it wasn't something I should concern myself with and it wasn't going to be something that was likely to happen."
MacPhail said he received inquiries about Guthrie but simply felt they weren't strong enough to deal an innings-eating veteran who is under club control through 2012.
"I had no shortage of interest. One of the elements for us to consider moving a talent like Jeremy was we would have to feel like we were getting some pitching back. And that's a tall order for clubs. They are reluctant to part with it," MacPhail said. "We probably could have gotten reasonable talent back, but not as much back in the pitching category that we needed to have to satisfy us."
That's fine with Guthrie, who is in his fifth season with the Orioles.
"I am happy here. I think we are doing good things," said Guthrie, who is 5-14 with a 4.18 ERA and leads the team with 1441/3 innings. "Each player, I think, makes the best of where they are."
Now that the deadline has passed, players must pass through trade waivers in August before they can be dealt. Most teams put everyone on trade waivers to gauge their players' values. A player can be withdrawn once if claimed, but if he is put on a second time and is claimed, he belongs to the claiming team.
It is expected that designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero and reliever Michael Gonzalez, among others, could pass through waivers and be traded in August. But MacPhail has said repeatedly that he is not looking to specifically dump salary.
The trade of Lee, he said, was made to clear space for Davis as well as provide salary relief. The Pirates have picked up the roughly $2.6 million remaining of Lee's $7.25 million contract for 2011. The Orioles are responsible for paying Lee's performance bonuses — which are incremental and based on plate appearances — which could be as much as $2.75 million. With Lee's having 364 plate appearances and the bonuses beginning at 400, it is more likely the Orioles will have to pay Pittsburgh between $500,000 and $1.75 million.
"The Derrek Lee trade was a function of the earlier trade that brought back Chris Davis, who we think needs an opportunity to play," MacPhail said, "We needed to create a space for him. We thought Chris' best position was first. Derrek is 35 years old. And he can help a pennant-contending team now."
MacPhail also said the Orioles liked Baker, who had 15 homers in 103 games for Single-A Bradenton this season.
The Orioles fielded inquiries about a variety of players, MacPhail said, but there were some they didn't want to dangle.
"We made the judgment, right or wrong, that this wasn't the market, at the present time, for moving, for example … Adam Jones," MacPhail said. "I am sure if we put him on the market, given the interest contending teams had in a center fielder, he could have brought us back a good haul. But we didn't see the wisdom of exploring that option at the present time."
As always, MacPhail said, he was trolling the market for pitching, but that's a common desire.
"We need to collect as much of that as we possibly can, and that is getting to be progressively harder and harder to get outside your system," he said.
MacPhail said he received calls from teams interested in Davis and Hunter once they had been acquired in the Uehara deal, but the Orioles want to see what they can do with consistent major league playing time. The interest, though, did not go unnoticed.
"That was gratifying that we had some positive feedback from other clubs that wanted these players," MacPhail said.
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