With the Orioles having a successful 2014 season – and having only one loss from a “rental” to deal with in replacing relief pitcher Andrew Miller – Dan Duquette actually waited until the beginning of 2015 to spring his next trade in an effort to replace departing outfielder Nick Markakis.
- Trade 27 (January 27, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Stephen Tarpley and a player named later to Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Travis Snider. Minor league pitcher Steven Brault was added on February 20.
The Pirates obviously believed Tarpley, who had not pitched beyond short-season A ball with Aberdeen, would be a valuable future pitcher. But his value turned out to be that of being a part of the August 2016 trade that brought pitcher Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh from the Yankees, with Nova adding a WAR of 1.4 in his brief tenure with the Pirates. At times Nova’s rotation-mate has been Brault, who worked his way up the Pirates’ minor league chain to debut for the Bucs this season. Thus far Brault has a WAR of (-0.4) with Pittsburgh, but both players involved from the Orioles can pay dividends in their own way for seasons to come. Snider wasn’t the answer to replace Nick Markakis, posting a WAR of 0.9 before being released in August 2015 (and going back to Pittsburgh.) He tried to latch on with Kansas City in 2016 but did not make the club, spending the season at AAA. Slight loss for Baltimore now, but could get much worse.
- Trade 28 (April 9, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league catcher Brian Ward, pitcher Ryan Webb, and their 2015 Competitive Balance Round B draft choice to Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league catcher Chris O’Brien and pitcher Ben Rowen. The Dodgers selected pitcher Josh Sborz with the draft pick on June 8, 2015.
Ward was a catcher who the Orioles liked for defense, but never hit enough to make the big club. That remained the case with Los Angeles, who released him after a half-season at AAA in his final baseball stop. And with Webb lasting just four days (!) with the Dodgers before his release (he has since pitched for Cleveland and Tampa Bay), it seems like they wanted the draft pick. Sborz has advanced to AA in his 1 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers organization. O’Brien is the only player of the two remaining active in the Orioles organization, as Rowen – who had debuted with Texas the season before – was released in July, 2015. He’s now pitching for the Brewers. A push, with the greater potential for an Orioles loss.
- Trade 29 (June 3, 2015) – Orioles trade outfielder Alejandro De Aza to Boston Red Sox for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel.
While the Orioles weren’t sellers at this point of the season, this was a reverse of the usual Duquette method of using minor leaguers to fill big league holes. De Aza, who came in a August, 2014 deal (Trade 25) was struggling at the plate for the Orioles so they decided to scoop up a prospect for him. It turned out the De Aza was a good fit for Boston, putting up a 1.3 WAR in a couple months before he was traded again to San Francisco for Luis Ysla. Since then De Aza has moved on to the Mets, but Ysla could still help the Red Sox end of the ledger in this one. Meanwhile, Gunkel has also climbed the ladder to AAA, meaning this will eventually be a battle of 2 AAA pitchers to determine the winner of this deal. Slight loss for Baltimore, but could go either way.
- Trade 30 (July 31, 2015) – Orioles trade pitcher Tommy Hunter to Chicago Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake.
Hunter was a popular presence in the Orioles’ clubhouse and was pitching relatively well, so it was a shock to see this deal go down. It turned out that neither player succeeded in their new home – Hunter had a (-0.2) WAR for the Cubs before signing with Cleveland as a free agent and eventually coming full circle back to Baltimore this August. Lake was even worse, posting a (-0.4) WAR in just 8 Baltimore games before being waived during the offseason. He played a little for Toronto this season, but was not a September callup. I’ll call this one a push.
- Trade 31 (July 31, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Zach Davies to Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Gerardo Parra.
In what seemed like a never-ending effort to shore up the Oriole outfield, they got the hot-hitting Parra from Milwaukee for yet another draft choice made under Duquette predecessor Andy McPhail. Unfortunately for the Orioles, Davies was almost a finished product and a month later he debuted with Milwaukee. So far he has a 2.7 WAR and should get consideration as the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year. The rental Parra was not the hitter they expected and put up a (-1.1) WAR for Baltimore before departing for Colorado as a free agent. Clear loss for Baltimore.
That sour note ended the 2015 trading season for Duquette, who was comparatively quiet in his fourth season with the Orioles. And as has been the case throughout, the result of the trades he made was reflective of the season’s result, as Baltimore tumbled to an 81-81 finish after three straight winning seasons under Duquette. Would 2016 continue the trend?