A look at the trade (part 5)

October 27, 2016 · Posted in Sports 

Things will be a little different for the 2016 evaluation because, simply put, we have a long way to go in determining winners and losers. Guys who are in A or AA ball now may need another three to four seasons to pan out, so in this instance it’s likely I won’t determine a winner or loser – just the deal and how it’s gone so far.

  • Trade 32 (December 2, 2015) – Orioles trade catcher Steve Clevenger to Seattle Mariners for pitcher C. J. Riefenhauser and outfielder Mark Trumbo.

Clevenger was the Orioles’ remnant of the disastrous Jake Arrieta deal (Trade 13) with the Cubs but he was enough to get Trumbo, who was being traded for the third time in two years. But 2016 has been a lost year for Steve, who broke his hand in June and was suspended indefinitely by the Mariners for comments made on Twitter in September. If Clevenger is through in Seattle and cannot be traded (chances are he won’t, because no one will take him in this PC climate) the 0.0 WAR Seattle gets makes Riefenhauser, a pitcher who pitched in the bigs for Tampa Bay but was waived shortly after his acquisition, a cipher in the deal. (Riefenhauser was eventually released from the Cubs organization in August.) My surprise is that Trumbo, the MLB home run leader, only has a 1.6 WAR for the season. But this good 2016 trade also accrues on the Orioles’ side of the Arrieta ledger, and, if they can keep the pending free agent Trumbo, makes that deal a little less bitter.

  • Trade 33 (February 4, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Jean Cosme to San Diego Padres for pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne.

Cosme is at least two to three seasons away from making a major league impact, as he pitched at Class A ball with Fort Wayne – essentially the Padres’ version of Delmarva. Despaigne was largely ineffective for the Orioles, compiling an (-0.2) WAR before being lost on a September waiver claim to Miami. So the best the Orioles can do on this one is a push.

  • Trade 34 (March 24, 2016) – Orioles trade player to be named to Chicago Cubs for pitcher Edgar Olmos.

Olmos, who had big league time with Miami and Seattle, was the subject of a waiver wire tug-of-war between the Cubs and Orioles in December, 2015 before Baltimore finally broke down and made this trade. Edgar pitched in Norfolk all season, so this may become a trade for no one or a cash deal.

  • Trade 35 (March 29, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Chris Jones to Los Angeles Angels for minor league outfielder Natanael Delgado and minor league infielder Erick Salcedo.

This trade was strictly a minor league deal but I include it to close the loop on Jones, who was acquired in a 2013 trade (Trade 10) and spent three seasons in the Orioles organization. He had a mediocre AAA season for the Angels, basically on par with the season Delgado had here in Delmarva. Salcedo, on the other hand, did well with Frederick and may be the best prospect going forward.

  • Trade 36 (April 18, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Alfredo Marte to Philadelphia Phillies for player to be named.

There was actually a cash option to this deal as well, and given the fact Marte only lasted two months in the Phillies organization before his release, that’s the most likely outcome. Prior to that, he spent time in MLB with the Diamondbacks and Angels.

  • Trade 37 (May 23, 2016) – Orioles trade pitcher Brian Matusz and their 2016 Competitive Balance Round B draft choice to Atlanta Braves for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves selected catcher Brett Cumberland with the draft pick, June 9, 2016.

Matusz was only the property of the Braves for a week before his release, which eventually led him to the Cubs organization. (Shades of Jake Arrieta!) Meanwhile, their draft pick Cumberland did not burn up the Appalachian League, although he still is with the organization – as a high draft pick Cumberland will be given a lot of leeway for awhile. For the Orioles side, Barker had a decent, but not great, remainder of the season with Bowie while Belicek struggled with a promotion to Frederick – he was pitching for the SAL Rome Braves to start the year. It’s more likely the Orioles do well with this one, besides dumping Matusz. It’s also interesting to note the Orioles have traded away their last 3 CB picks, which are the only draft choices teams are allowed to trade. The only one they have used was to draft outfielder Josh Hart in 2013, the first year the feature was added to assist small-market and struggling clubs. Hart played this season for advanced-A Frederick since being drafted out of a Georgia high school.

  • Trade 38 (July 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Ariel Miranda to Seattle Mariners for pitcher Wade Miley.

While this was an effort to upgrade the starting rotation, a key difference in this deadline deal was that Miley is under team control through 2017, so the Mariners received a prospect closer to major-league ready – in fact, Miranda debuted with the Orioles earlier that month. Since then Ariel has been plugged into the Mariners’ starting rotation and put up a 0.9 WAR in his brief Seattle stint. Meanwhile, Miley is responsible for a (-0.3) WAR after a slow start with the Orioles – however, over his career he has been good for a WAR of 1 to 2 a year. It’s possible this could be a winner for both teams, although Miley’s team made the postseason in 2016 over Seattle.

  • Trade 39 (August 1, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league catcher Jonah Heim to Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Steve Pearce.

The jury is obviously out on how successful the heretofore light-hitting but defensive-minded Heim will end up being as he’s only playing in advanced-A ball. But the latest go-round for Pearce in Baltimore has been less than successful as he battled injuries the entire time before finally giving in and having season-ending surgery. An 0.1 WAR with the Orioles in 2016 is a far cry from the (team-leading) 5.9 he put up in 2014. But the Orioles may be willing to sign him once again in 2017.

  • Trade 40 (August 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich to Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Michael Bourn.

It’s way too early to speculate what sort of player Heinrich will be given that he’s never played beyond short-season ball, so we won’t know for awhile what sort of price was paid for Bourn, who’s often been used as a defensive replacement and has put up a WAR of 0.1 since the deal. Considering teams have picked Bourn off the scrap heap twice this year, Arizona could be in line for a good return.

  • Trade 41 (August 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Zach Phillips to Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Kyle Lobstein.

The final trade this series will cover, it took a player who made his debut with the Orioles in 2011 (but had bounced around two organizations since and hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013) and sent him off for a pitcher who didn’t seem to fit into Pittsburgh’s plans. Phillips pitched a little for the Pirates this September, putting up a 0.2 WAR. Lobstein made one single-inning appearance for Norfolk but was not called up in September.

At this early juncture, the jury is still out on Duquette’s 2016 trading success – thus far he is slightly ahead in WAR, but that is mainly on the strength of Trumbo and if he walks away from the Orioles it may be a losing season in the market for Dan. This would be a bit of a contrast: throughout the series I have tallied up the results and they tend to closely follow the results on the field. Since Baltimore had a regular season that was the third-best of the five-season Duquette era – the Orioles won 93 games in 2012 and 96 in 2014 compared to 89 this season – it’s likely this season will end up as a modest success, with a few hits and some misses.

In 2012, the players Baltimore acquired in trades put up a collective 4.6 WAR for the team, while those going to the various trading partners [Texas, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado, Arizona (twice), Philadelphia, and Cleveland] actually lost a WAR of (-1.1). One player still has potential to add to the opponents’ total, but it’s unlikely he will tip the scale away from Baltimore in this group of trades.

The story was different in 2013, as Baltimore received just a combined WAR of 3.9 for players who have provided the partners [Seattle (three times), Pittsburgh (twice), Atlanta, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs (particularly), Milwaukee, and Houston] a combined 25.5 WAR. Toss out the Arrieta deal, though, and it’s almost even (1.3 vs. 1.7). Unfortunately, the one player Baltimore has that accrues to their side of the bargains is up against six who combine for the opposition ledger.

On the other hand, 2014 was beneficial overall to the club as they have gained 7.1 Wins Above Replacement for their acquisitions while giving up just 0.9 to the partners [San Diego (twice), Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston (twice), and the Chicago White Sox]. There are three players on the Orioles side who will help their cause while two still play against them.

The comparatively quiet year of 2015 has so far netted Baltimore a (-0.6) WAR while partners (Pittsburgh, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee) have accrued a total of 4.8 WAR so far. Three players can still net gains for Baltimore right now while four players work against them.

In 2016, the Orioles picked up 1.3 WAR in its trades while opponents [Seattle (twice), San Diego, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Pittsburgh] have picked up 1.1 WAR. Of course, much is still to be determined when 10 players involved for these deals are still in the Orioles organization while 8 play with the various partners.

Duquette seems to be most willing to swing a deal with Seattle, trading with them five times. (Obviously they haven’t learned from the Eric Bedard deal.) Pittsburgh is also another willing dealer with four trades, while he’s not afraid to stay in the division with Boston, risk another disaster with the Cubs, or try and pry more folks out of Arizona or San Diego – each of them have made three deals with Duquette. So far he has avoided Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota, both the Yankees and Mets, St. Louis, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington.

But to answer the lament of the person who started all of this, it appears that the trades have done more harm than good overall. Duquette has gained just 16.3 Wins Above Replacement over five seasons while giving up 31.2 WAR. And even if you toss out the Arrieta trade as an outlier – which puts the advantage back on Dan’s side – you have to figure that several of those he has given up (like the young pitchers Rodriguez, Brault, Davies, and Miranda) will be useful to their new clubs long after those he got in return are gone.

That’s the risk you run, though, and the Orioles haven’t been slouches on the field as they have the most wins in the American League since Duquette took over. In the end, that is an important statistic, but there’s also the aspect of player development to look at and, to succeed, the Orioles have to develop players both for their needs and as trade bait. Since Delmarva was the only team in the Orioles’ system to have a winning record this season, that prospect may hurt Duquette’s ability to secure pieces for his teams in the future.

This has been an enjoyable series to put together over a couple weeks as the season came to a close. Next on the sports docket for me will be updating the SotW Tracker in the next couple weeks and the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame in early December.

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