The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Baltimore Orioles made two deals, one semi-major, one semi-minor. Gerardo Parra was brought over from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league starter Zach Davies and Tommy Hunter was sent to the Chicago Cubs in return for minor league outfielder Junior Lake. In light of the series of blockbuster moves executed by the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles’ acquisitions pale in comparison, but the front office did all they could with a very limited talent pool.
The Orioles had been linked in talks with the San Diego Padres for Justin Upton and Tyson Ross. The Padres, delusional or not, decided to hold onto both as well as the rest of their trade chips, but it would not have been realistic to expect the Orioles to pull off an earth-shattering deal to bring in both of those impact players. The Orioles just do not have a deep pool of minor league talent right now, and injuries to Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey removed two potentially valuable trade chips from the table. Dan Duquette and the front office also very wisely decided that Kevin Gausman would not be dealt, the first smart decision the team has made with its future ace this year. Gausman finally appears to have settled into the rotation after being in limbo for much of the first half. His last two starts have been about as good as they could be — 14.2 IP, two earned, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. He retired the first 11 Detroit Tigers he faced last night en route to his first victory as a starter this year.
At the deadline, the Orioles needed a significant upgrade in left or right field. Orioles’ left fielders have batted just .208 this season, second to last in the entire league, with only eight home runs and 25 RBI’s. That’s quite a drop off from the production delivered by Nelson Cruz last year. When the Orioles let Cruz walk, they knew his replacements — Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider, and Steve Pearce — would struggle to fill his shoes, but struggles of this magnitude were not expected. Right field has not been a problem of late, but that is only because Chris Davis is playing there out of position.
Parra will provide the upgrade the Orioles were looking for. The 28-year-old, two-time Gold Glove winner, brings great defense, speed, and a career .279/.330/.407 slash line in seven seasons. Parra was in the midst of a career year with the Brewers, slashing .328/.369/.517, and comes to the Orioles with the longest active hitting streak in the league.
The price on Parra was not exorbitant. Davies had been having a good year at Triple-A, but did not project as much more than a third or fourth starter in the Major Leagues. The Orioles have plenty of those in their system and big league rotation, so Davies was slightly expendable.
With Parra likely taking over in right field, the Orioles can shift Davis back to first base and take Ryan Flaherty‘s bat out of the lineup. Buck Showalter will need to decide how to handle his left field conundrum. The Orioles kicked the tires on Ben Revere, but he ultimately went to Toronto. Nolan Reimold has been hot of late, but Showalter has still been reluctant to stick with him on an everyday basis. With the other corner outfield position settled, perhaps the Orioles’ manager will begin trusting Reimold day in and day out. Then, there is the lineup Showalter rolled out last night with Matt Wieters at first base and Davis still in right. That is another interesting option to consider going forward.
At the trade deadline, all a team can do is take care of their own needs, and the Orioles did that. The Blue Jays had the pieces to blow up their farm system and go all in for 2015. The moves may pay off this year, but will likely leave Toronto in a similar position three years from now. That was not something the Orioles could do. Gerardo Parra makes the Orioles a better team immediately. If the Blue Jays end up nosing the Orioles out of a playoff spot, then so be it. The Orioles cannot control the moves the Blue Jays make, but they have won six of seven and made their team better at the deadline.
It’s easy to call the Orioles “Trade Deadline Losers” because Toronto got significantly better, but the Orioles are far from losers. They did what they could with what they had and did not give up a potentially elite arm in Gausman. Parra helps to complete a very well-rounded lineup, and they did not bankrupt an already thin farm system for a rental bat or arm. The playoffs are still well within reach if the Orioles take care of business, and they took the first step towards making that a reality on Friday before the trade deadline.