As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, almost the entire American League is still in playoff contention. A log jam like this has many teams looking to make moves to fill roster holes.The Baltimore Orioles are one of these teams and their most glaring hole all year has been in left field.The platoon of Travis Snider, Nolan Reimold & David Lough has combined to hit .240 with 41 R, 9 HR, 37 RBI & 32 BB. Luckily for Baltimore, the Detroit Tigers, falling out of AL Central contention have put their left fielder, 29-year old Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, on the market.
Yoenis Cespedes has bested the Orioles left field production all by himself. This season he has 107 hits in 370 Abs, 55 runs, 14 home runs, and 54 RBI. The only things Cespedes doesn’t do very well is walk, having drawn only 17 free passes all season. This lack of drawing walks can be forgiven if he can give the Orioles lineup the shot in the arm it needs. The Campechuela, Cuba native would benefit from the home stadium move, Detroit’s Comerica Park is one of the biggest in the league and known as a pitcher’s park, which is why he only has 5 of his 14 homers at home. The move to the hitter friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards could be great for Cespedes and make him just what the Orioles need to stay in the playoff hunt. Cespedes also has a cannon of an arm in the outfield, as proven by his 39 career outfield assists from left field in 3.5 seasons.
Obviously Cespedes would not be free, but with the Orioles openly shopping pitcher Bud Norris and recently letting it be known that pitcher Kevin Gausman is no longer untouchable the Orioles might have the chips to entice the Tigers to give up Cespedes. A pitcher like Norris, who has given up 13 homers this season, could be the opposite of Cespedes, with a move to spacious Comerica Park possibly curing his ailing ERA which now sits at a paltry 6.71. Despite his recent demotion to the bullpen, Bud Norris could be of help to Detroit as he was a better second half pitcher last season, going 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA after the All-Star break in 2014. The most attractive thing for Detroit about Kevin Gausman, aside from his potential, is that because of his small amount of MLB Service time, he is under club control through the 2020 season. The former LSU Tiger has shown flashes of greatness in his short career, but has also been inconsistent from start to start and sometimes even inning to inning. Some of these inconsistent performances could stem from inconsistent use from Baltimore who has repeatedly shuttled him between the bullpen and the starting rotation throughout his short career. This sort of mismanagement messed up the career of former Yankee and Tiger Joba Chamberlain and getting Gausman in a new organization could give him a chance to reset his career as a starting pitcher. Cespedes is an unrestricted free agent after this season so if the Orioles give up a guy they control through 2020 for him, they need to feel like they can get him to sign an extension after the trade. If not, then the price may go down and maybe Bud Norris, who is also an unrestricted free agent, would be the biggest piece they need. Either way, trades are inherently gambles and Cespedes bat is worth the gamble.
Whatever the Orioles do, they need to do something to bring a shot of life back into their lineup because they are now sitting 6 games back behind the Yankees in the AL East and 3.5 games out of the Wild Card. Some might say that trading formerly untouchable prospect Kevin Gausman away may seem like a steep price to pay for a guy that would be playing on his 4th team in 3 seasons. If it means being able to dump Bud Norris and his $8+ million salary and getting a former All-Star & Home Run Derby Champion in return, so be it. Sometimes more is lost by indecision than by a bad decision. If the Orioles don’t make a move to add a bat by the deadline, it may get late early in Baltimore.