Time To Sell?

Analysis: With The Trade Deadline One Week Away, Here's A Look At Five Orioles Who Could Garner Significant Interest On The Market

July 24, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

NEW YORK -- One week before Friday's nonwaiver trade deadline, the Orioles are in their usual position as sellers, looking to move a couple of their veterans to augment their young nucleus.

The Orioles haven't made a major trade-deadline deal since sending Larry Bigbie to the Colorado Rockies for Eric Byrnes in a swap of outfielders on July 30, 2005, almost two years before Andy MacPhail took over the club's front office.

"This is the time of the year that general managers live for, really," said MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "Obviously, it's a lot more fun when you're a game ahead or behind and you're trying to find a player to put you over the top. But in this circumstance, you're trying to take advantage of an opportunity to make your organization better in the future. At the end of the day, if we didn't do anything, it would be a little disappointing. But at the same time, you don't want to fall into doing something for the sake of doing something."

Closer George Sherrill has attracted interest from a number of teams and is one of the most coveted names on the trade market. Several of the Orioles' other trade chips have either failed to match last season's production (Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora) or have struggled recently (Danys Baez). Still, MacPhail said he has been pleased with the interest in several of his players.

"The volume of calls has picked up," MacPhail said. "Like always, we'll evaluate things on a case-by-case basis and see what makes sense for us. But we don't have anything going on now to make us believe that something is close."

Here's a closer look at some of the Orioles' most-discussed trade chips. (Potential suitors are based on the needs of other clubs and not necessarily actual talks with the Orioles):

Danys Baez

Why he'll be traded: : Many teams are looking for relief help at the deadline. ... The right-hander is valuable as a multi-inning guy who can fill the setup role and has closer experience. ... The Orioles are eager to move him and aren't expecting much in return.

Why he won't: : He has thrown back-to-back days only once, so durability is an issue. ... He's still due about $2 million this season, and the Orioles will likely have to absorb a lot of that if they expect a mid-level prospect in return. ... His contract calls for a $500,000 assignment bonus to be paid by team that acquires him. ... He has struggled recently, his ERA jumping from 3.03 to 4.60 over his past 10 outings.

Potential suitors: : Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins.

Outlook: : With Chris Ray and Dennis Sarfate on the mend, Cla Meredith on board and Bob McCrory and Kam Mickolio at Triple-A, the Orioles want to move Baez and get salary relief in the process. However, their ability to do so depends on how much of his remaining contract they're willing to absorb. It's a good bet that he'll be traded at some point.

Aubrey Huff

Why he'll be traded: : The first baseman is a proven run producer and middle-of-the-lineup bat. ... He has a well-earned reputation as a second-half player, with a .301 career average after the All-Star break. ... He's a free agent next season.

Why he won't: : The Orioles aren't especially motivated to move him as they would be content to offer him arbitration and get him back on a one-year basis or accept compensatory draft picks. ... He's considered below-average defensively, and teams view him as a designated hitter, limiting his market value. ... Has just one homer and six RBIs in his past 19 games.

Potential suitors: : Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants.

Outlook: : Huff will be traded only if the Orioles get an offer they deem better than what they could potentially get with the draft picks they would be awarded if he bolts via free agency. If Huff accepts arbitration - and there appears to be a decent chance of that - the Orioles would be comfortable having him back on a one-year basis, even at a hefty price tag.

Melvin Mora

Why he'll be traded: : There's virtually no chance the Orioles will pick up his 2010 option, so he might be willing to drop his blanket no-trade clause and join a contender for the last two months. ... He's still considered a very good defensive third baseman and a dangerous hitter (.328) with runners in scoring position.

Why he won't: : He would likely want some form of compensation in order to drop his no-trade clause to join another team. ... A market really hasn't developed for him. ... He hasn't found his power stroke, with just one homer and 15 RBIs since May 7.

Potential suitors: : Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners.

Outlook: : Mora, the longest-tenured Oriole, appears to be entering the final couple of months of his near-decade-long stint with the club. However, it is much more likely he leaves via free agency than trade.

George Sherrill

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