Baseball’s annual meetings start Monday in Dallas.
There will be tons of agents there hoping to get the best deals for their players. I am sure the Orioles will talk to plenty of them, letting them know there is interest in their clients.
And I will not be surprised if, at some point, the Orioles sign one or two free agents for 2012, likely lesser tier players who won’t get eye-popping deals.
But the sense is that if new executive vice president Dan Duquette makes a splash next week – or within the next month – it will be in the form of a trade.
When you look at the Orioles’ roster, there aren’t a whole lot of valuable trade chips. Their most coveted players – Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Zach Britton – are players that can be built around. J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis are solid players with contracts hefty enough that teams aren’t going to hand over the farm while absorbing those salaries.
Mark Reynolds would attract some interest, but remember the going price for him last year was two relievers, so you have to be realistic in what would come back in return. Much of the rest of the roster is filled with marginal big leaguers or inexperienced players who are young enough to have an upside but have not established themselves as future mainstays.
There is one guy, however, who seems utterly tradeable – so much so that we mention his name every winter and every July. And yet right-hander Jeremy Guthrie remains an Oriole.
There is a reason for that. Guthrie is solid and dependable. He will make 30-plus starts, he will throw 200-plus innings and he’ll keep you in most games in the AL East. That can’t be said – at least not yet – for the rest of the Orioles’ projected staff.
So it’s tough to consider trading your one dependable starter from a rotation of question marks.
The flip side is that Guthrie will be 33 in April and a free agent at season’s end. He’ll likely cost $7 million or more in his final year of arbitration considering he’s now thrown 200 innings in three consecutive seasons.
And he has trade value. Not as an ace, the role he is forced to fill in Baltimore, but as a middle-of-the-rotation innings eater on a good team.
And, frankly, the Orioles can lose 90-plus games with or without Guthrie in 2012, so why not deal him for a potential future part or two?
But there is a contingent out there that gasps at the idea of dealing Guthrie, simply because of what his absence would do to the rotation. There’s also the thought of extending Guthrie for another few years since dependable starting pitching is always a commodity.
Which camp are you in?
Daily Think Special: Should Jeremy Guthrie be dealt this winter?