O’s fans are stuck in a waiting game right now, as the Baltimore front office seemingly endlessly debates whether signing Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler is worth giving up the team’s top two picks in the draft.
It’s no secret that the Orioles have a depleted farm system and their top prospects are fragile pitchers who, while initially highly thought of, have been victimized by injures that have cast serious doubts on their major league futures.
A lot of analysts and experts would say that it’d be best for the team to hold onto its picks and restore the farm. However, Baltimore has already spent too much money this offseason, and if a World Series is truly their goal, they can’t stop now.
The reality is the Orioles need to add Gallardo and Fowler in order to compete and keep fans happy.
So how valuable are these picks that Baltimore would be giving up? First, let’s take a look at the next last 11 players taken in the No. 14 slot, which Baltimore would have to give up for Gallardo:
No. 14 Picks
2005- OF Trevor Crowe
2006- OF Travis Snider
2007- OF Jason Heyward
2008- OF Aaron Hicks
2009- P Matt Purke
2010- P Dylan Covey
2011- P Jose Fernandez
2012- P Nick Travieso
2013- C Reese McGuire
2014- P Tyler Beede
2015- P Kolby Allard
The big names that jump out at you are clearly Heyward and Fernandez. They’ve have their success in the MLB and the Orioles would love to have players in their mold at this spot.
There’s still been more busts at this position though, as Crowe and Snider haven’t been worth their selections. Purke, Covey and Beede didn’t sign in their selections at No. 14, but have struggled in the minors after being drafted in later years.
Hicks is still trying to find steadiness in the MLB after a trade to the Yankees, while it’s too early to tell how Allard will look.
It’s clear that the No. 14 spot is very hit or miss, in a slot where most of the agreed-upon big names are already selected.
Many fans are worried about Gallardo’s decreasing K/9 rate, but the right-hander is still reliable. Last year, Gallardo posted his lowest HR/9 rate since his rookie season, and his 3.42 ERA was his lowest since 2008. He’s clearly past his days of being a No. 1 starter, but he is also a much better option than anyone else on the market, or that the O’s could pencil in based on their current roster.
Are Gallardo’s track record and contract worth this spot? Probably not. However, the Orioles need an upgrade in the rotation and can afford to lose this pick, especially for a proven MLB talent who would immediately bolster their rotation.
Signing Gallardo means the Orioles would be all in on losing their picks and Fowler could be next on the list. Let’s take a look at who’s been taken at the No. 29 position, which is the comp. pick for Chen that the O’s would have to give up to sign Fowler:
No. 29 Picks
2005- P Jacob Marceaux
2006- P Kyle McCulloch
2007- OF Wendell Fairley
2008- 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
2009- OF Slade Heathcott
2010- P Cam Bedrosian
2011- 2B Joe Panik
2012- OF Lewis Brinson
2013- OF Ryne Stanek
2014- SS Alex Blandino
2015- P Jonathan Harris
Panik is the big name here and the only other recognizable figure is Chisenhall. The No. 29 slot has its fair share of misses, but it’s still too early to tell for those drafted post-2012, to be fair.
The track record at this position isn’t flashy and the Orioles really need a right fielder with a good arm. Fowler could also lead off for the team and get on base, something they’re sorely lacking.
Fowler revived his career last season with the Cubs, notching career highs in games played (156), home runs (17), and runs scored (102). He had five outfield assists, got on base at a .346 clip (career .363), and seems to be a clear upgrade over Nolan Reimold or Dariel Alvarez. Fowler could lead off, allowing the team to move Manny Machado down in the order.
The thought here is that he’s certainly worth losing the pick, especially if the team signs Gallardo first.
It’s never fun giving up picks, especially with a depleted farm system, but Baltimore is in compete-now mode and the No. 14 and No. 29 picks have had plenty of misses. For the O’s to give themselves the best chance at winning a World Series in the near future, they can’t be concerned about prospects who won’t make an impact for years to come.