To say that the last 10 years have been difficult for Baltimore Orioles fans would be the understatement of the century. The team’s 2014 American League Championship Series appearance is one of the few highlights of the last decade. Since losing the Wild Card play-in game in 2016, the franchise has floundered and quickly become the laughing stock of the league.
The Chris Davis contract, the loss of superstar shortstop Manny Machado, and a humiliating 115-loss season in 2018 have brought much pain and suffering to a fiercely loyal and passionate Orioles fan base, but the troubles go much deeper than that.
Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the Baltimore Orioles have made since 2010.
The Best Trade the Baltimore Orioles Have Made Since 2010: Baltimore Acquires Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter from the Texas Rangers for Koji Uehara (July 30, 2011)
Nine years later, this trade doesn’t appear to be a positive one for the Orioles. Uehara, an aging late-inning reliever at the time, went on to become a masterful closer for the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and was an instrumental part of their World Series Championship that year. Davis, meanwhile, is now the poster boy for overpaying a player and handing out big contracts too early.
However, both Davis and Hunter would play crucial roles in the Orioles’ 2014 and 2016 seasons, both of which saw the team competing in the playoffs. For Hunter, he became a valuable setup man behind Zach Britton in 2014, making 60 appearances while finishing with a 3-2 record, a 2.97 ERA, and 11 saves that season. The three-headed monster of Hunter, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton gave the 2014 Orioles a significant advantage in the later innings.
Davis, for his part, mashed 38 home runs in 2016 as part of a fearsome Orioles lineup. That season, the Orioles lineup contained powerhouse hitters such as Davis, Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, and Pedro Alvarez, all of whom hit more than 20 home runs that year.
The 2014 and 2016 Baltimore Orioles failed to reach the World Series, but given how the rest of the decade fared, those years felt incredibly special to diehard Orioles fans.
The Worst Trade the Baltimore Orioles Have Made Since 2010: Baltimore acquires Bud Norris from the Houston Astros for Josh Hader and L.J. Hoes (July 31, 2013)
You might not have realized it, but the Baltimore Orioles did in fact have Josh Hader in their system at one point. The fireballer lefty, now one of the best closers in the game out in Milwaukee, was originally drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
During the 2013 season Hader pitched as a starter in the Class A South Atlantic League, finishing with a 3-6 record along 79 strikeouts and a 2.65 ERA in 17 stars. Hader was traded along with outfielder L.J. Hoes on July 31, 2013 to the Houston Astros for Bud Norris.
At the time of the trade, Norris held a 6-9 record with a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts with the Astros. The Orioles were aiming for a playoff spot that year but ultimately failed to reach the postseason, finishing with an 85-77 record, which put them in third place in the AL East.
Norris didn’t help the Orioles reach their goal, as they had hoped. He went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA in nine starts with the Orioles for the remainder of that season. As for Hader, the rest is history. He eventually wound up in Milwaukee in 2017 and has since racked up 47 saves and been a two-time All-Star since making his major-league debut.
Trading away talented prospects for a rental player during a playoff chase is normal, but it’s only worth it if the rental player actually helps your team reach the postseason. Norris’ career flamed out pretty quickly, while Hader’s career is just beginning, and it looks like he will end up being one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in MLB history if he continues to trend upwards.
Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.