The MLB offseason has hit the ground running over the past few weeks and we have seen a several trades already take place, most notably those involving SS Andrelton Simmons and RHP Craig Kimbrel. The Los Angeles Angels acquired Simmons, the reigning Wilson Defensive Player of the Year winner, from the Atlanta Braves in a deal that sent the Angels’ shortstop, Erick Aybar, to Atlanta. Just about 24 hours later, the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox struck a deal that sent Kimbrel, a four-time All Star closer and 2011 NL Rookie of the Year, to Boston in exchange for four of the Sox’s top 20 rated prospects.
These deals got me thinking about two Orioles who may find themselves in similar situations: SS J.J. Hardy and LHP Zach Britton.
Hardy has seen his offensive numbers take a huge hit over the last two seasons but his glove is still pretty solid, especially when he is healthy. While I by no means am comparing Hardy, 33, to Simmons, 26, I do think Hardy could have some value if the Orioles were to dangle him in trade discussions.
To give a bit of perspective, let’s take a look at the shortstops that are available in free agency. The list is not very long and the talent available leaves much to be desired…
Ian Desmond (age 30), Asdrubal Cabrera (age 30), Alexei Ramirez (age 34), Jimmy Rollins (age 36), and Clint Barmes (age 36).
While I’m sure Hardy, at this point in his career, still wants to play every day, I could see him fitting nicely on a team with a young shortstop. Hardy, a 3x Gold Glover, could be brought in as an able veteran and someone who could help to mentor a younger infielder.
Now, considering the Orioles don’t really have a backup plan at shortstop (not named Ryan Flaherty), and since Hardy’s contract doesn’t expire until after the 2017 season, I don’t see the Orioles moving him right now unless a decent bundle of prospects would come in return.
If Hardy does end up traded, the possibility of moving Manny Machado back to his natural position would greatly increase. That, however, would leave us with the same problem just in a different position – no backup plan at third base.
The Oriole more likely to get traded before the 2016 season kicks off, in my opinion, is closer Zach Britton.
The market for closers has never been hotter than it is right now and Britton is the best of the best. It has been reported that the Yankees are open to moving Andrew Miller and that the Reds are looking to deal flame thrower Aroldis Chapman. While looking at the return that the Padres got for Kimbrel, I think the Orioles should at least get a few teams on the phone to see what they might be willing to offer for Britton. With the Astros aggressively seeking a closer, I wonder if they would be willing to part with RHP Lance McCullers or RHP Collin McHugh. Both of them would be upgrades in the O’s starting rotation. Let me dream!
All of this is speculation, of course, but isn’t that what the offseason is all about?
Whatever happens, I truly hope that GM Dan Duquette and owner Peter Angelos are willing and able to do what it takes to put a good product on the field in 2016 and beyond. We have four good seasons under our belt since snapping our 15-year losing skid and I’m sure I speak for the majority of our fan base when I say that we’re ready to take the next step and see our team win a World Series.
2015 was, without a doubt, a step back after our division championship 2014 season. It’s time to keep climbing.