Last week, baseball fans witnessed one of the craziest trade deadline days MLB has ever seen.
It seemed as though any player was up for grabs. Pitching stars such as Jon Lester and David Price were shipped off. Big-name hitters, including Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera, were moved as well. And the closer we all got to the 4 p.m. deadline, the quicker the moves seemed to be happening.
The Baltimore Orioles got in on the action, acquiring left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller (2.25 ERA, 44 IP) has been one of the best relievers in the game this season and will help contribute to an Orioles bullpen that was already very good before his arrival.
But while the O's added a valuable weapon in Miller, some feel as though the team could have, and should have, done more to acquire necessary pieces.
The O's do have some obvious holes on their roster, leaving vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in a position to look at acquiring more players even after the non-waiver trade deadline has passed. The most glaring needs, in order, appear to be:
- Second base
The Orioles currently have a platoon of the right-handed-hitting Jonathan Schoop and left-handed-hitting Ryan Flaherty going at second base for them. And while their defense has been pretty outstanding, their offense has left a lot to be desired, as they are collectively batting .210 with 12 home runs.
Though Schoop is just 22 and a fairly highly touted prospect, the team is in the middle of a pennant race and can't be waiting around for a youngster to figure it out at the big league level.
The problem is that there may not be much available on the market that is an obvious upgrade over what the team currently has. Last Thursday, Baltimore was targeting both Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio, only to watch them go to other teams.
The Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley appears to be the best option, but he has a pricey contract and would cost a lot in the way of prospects to acquire. He can also block any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights.
As far as the catcher position is concerned, the O's appear content with their platoon of veteran Nick Hundley and rookie Caleb Joseph. While both of those players are also struggling offensively, their defense has been superb, and O's manager Buck Showalter has always made it well known to his players that he values strong defense above strong offense.
For that reason, I would not expect the team to target the recently released Dan Uggla (Giants) at second base, for example.
Joseph, a 28-year-old former prospect, was always better known in the minor leagues for his offense as opposed to his defense, yet he has been terrific behind the dish for the club. It's still possible that the rookie could get his offense going in the bigs.
Duquette will likely monitor the catching market, but just like the second base market, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot out there that would make the O's better. Don't be surprised if the O's do acquire another catcher before September, but don't be surprised if they don't, either.
Now when it comes to pitching, any team could use help in that department no matter how good its staff is.
The O's pitching staff certainly has been good over the last couple of months, propelling them to the fifth-best ERA in the AL (3.68). And while the team's rotation lacks a "truce ace," I wouldn't expect to see the club acquire one during the month of August.
Instead, the O's will be looking to add depth to their roster, both in the majors and minors. The team has already added Miller to its bullpen and has signed veteran left-handed starter Joe Saunders to a minor league contract.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the O's are interested in signing their former closer, Jim Johnson, to a minor league deal after he was released by the Oakland Athletics, and it wouldn't be shocking to see a deal get done between the two parties. However, Kubatko later reported that possibility could already be squashed.
And should any relievers become available this August, such as Boston's Koji Uehara, expect the O's to be right in the thick of trade talks as they look to improve upon a strength—because a shutdown bullpen in the playoffs is a dangerous weapon.
While the O's could make another move or two before September, the team likely won't be making any splashes in the headlines this month. Certainly it'll be active on trade fronts as well as the free-agent market, but if you're expecting the team to bring in an ace pitcher, then you'll be seriously disappointed when another month goes by.
However, just because the non-waiver trade deadline has passed doesn't mean the O's aren't going to be making any moves. The team's offense has slumped recently, so expect Duquette to target some solid hitters in an attempt to awaken the O's bats, as well as look to build upon the strength that is the O's pitching staff.
More moves are likely to come. It won't be anything like last week's deadline madness, but it could still be fun.