Dariel Alvarez during Spring Training 2015
Dariel Alvarez during Spring Training 2015

With the Orioles winning the series against the Tigers, trade speculation fever has picked back up in Baltimore.  The Orioles have now been reportedly interested in Carlos Gomez and Justin Upton.  With the increased interest, the staff of BSR held a panel to discuss several questions that Orioles fans are thinking right now:

1.  With the Orioles floating near the .500 mark, should the Orioles be Buyers or Sellers at the trade deadline?  Is there a certain record that the Orioles need to have to be in one of these categories?

Zach Wilt –  If the Orioles aren’t out of the AL East or Wild Card by a double digit margin, there’s absolutely no reason they should sell. On September 1, 2011, the Red Sox were 9 games ahead of the Rays. At the end of the season, Tampa Bay edged Boston on the final regular season game and made the postseason after them. You only get so many cracks at winning a World Series. Take them when you’ve got them.

Jake English – Buyers. Despite how terrible things have felt in July, remember that this team was in first place on July 2nd, and that this team turned a lackluster April/May into a scorching June. There is still plenty of season left. Looking at the AL East, I think that the O’s have the horses to make it through the grind, but they do not match up favorably in the playoffs. With the imminent closing of the Birds’ competitive window, they should take one last stab at it in 2015, before having to answer some difficult questions in the off-season.

Connor Guercio – I do think the Orioles will be buyers at the trade deadline. They see themselves in a positive light and will look to make a push for the postseason. I think the O’s remain buyers unless they’re at .500 or below it by July 31st. I think in no situation will they become sellers, unless they somehow lose their next 10 before the trade deadline.

Jabby Burns –  Although this might not be popular among Birdland, I think our beloved Orioles should be SELLERS. There, I said it. My reasoning mostly has to do with two things. 1. The farm system is as bare as Zach Wilt’s chest as DD has moved (with good reason) a ton of talent to give Buck the best team he can to win now, which has provided Birdland two playoff runs and a AL East Title. 2. Unless something happens in the next week or so, this roster is not built to make a deep run in the 2015 playoffs, if they are fortunate enough to win the AL East-which is the only way I see they can make the playoffs based on the rest of the AL (Angels, Royals, Twins, Stros’, ect). And I’m not saying blow the whole thing up, but I think the team can get some top level prospects in return for SP Wei Yen Chen. Wieters, Davis could also garner some decent returns, but I think Chen is the most valuable piece to another contending team (Cubs, Dodgers, Royals, ect). Footnote: This wasn’t easy to type.

2. If the Orioles were to be buyers, which player should the Orioles be targeting with their current restrictions within the farm system?

ZW – That’s the toughest question of all. They could use some starting pitching help and a decent hitting corner outfielder, but with their top prospects injured it’s hard for me to imagine that they could be serious contenders for any big name. That’s why I think a guy like Tyler Clippard, who could help shorten a game for their rotation, is the most realistic possibility.

JE –  My first answer would be: how many Dan Duquette acquisitions have you correctly predicted? This guy finds diamonds in the rough. But that’s a bit of a cop-out, but I will say that the position I would look to shore up would be the corner outfield spots.

Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that the Orioles are going to be involved in a blockbuster trade. Their name is going to be linked to every major name in the trade market, because that’s how teams and agents drive up prices. Don’t waste your time thinking about Justin Upton or Carlos Gomez. Knowing Duquette, it would be something uninspiring, like Marlon Byrd. Then again, he managed to get a couple of good weeks out of Alejandro De Aza in 2014, so who knows?

CG –  I say go all out for Carlos Gomez. Just to throw names out that can be moved, I see Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, Kevin Gausman, Chance Sisco & Dariel Alvarez all being discussed. Sisco would not make much sense since the Brewers have Jonathan Lucroy, Alvarez has a lot of question marks, so that leaves the pitchers. Yes, I know Bundy and Harvey are having injury problems right now, but they still have a lot of trade value. Also, Gomez is under contract until after 2016, so he is not just a 2 month rental.

JB – If the Orioles decided to tell me to kick rocks and they would rather be buyers at the deadline, I think adding a “legit” corner OF and another SP could bolster their playoff hopes The problem with that is two fold. 1. They don’t have the prospects in the system (see above) to acquire guys like Jay Bruce among others to make a deal happen. I love Dariel Alveraz as much as anyone (listen to BST), but he’s 26 and honestly I think his best chance to succeed is here in Baltimore. Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are almost impossible to deal with their injuries to get back what their actual value is. And I just don’t think guys like Justin Upton and/or Cespedes are “Buck type players.

3. If you had to move one player before the deadline to improve the organization, whom would it be?  What teams and/or players would you be looking for in return?

ZW – OK, maybe this is the toughest question of all. Wei-Yin Chen has the most value, but he’s the most important pending free agent in my opinion. I think Chris Davis would be highly coveted by a team looking for power, like say, the Houston Astros. Does that answer the question?

JE – Tommy Hunter would probably be a guy we could flip, without it greatly impacting the roster. You hear a lot about getting something in return for Davis, or, Wieters, or Chen (because those guys are likely gone)… but losing any one of those guys would make a playoff run difficult. Hunter has value to a team in contention, but is easier for the O’s to replace with in-house options.

CG – If I had to move one player or two players to help the team, it would be Brian Matusz or Tommy Hunter. With guys like Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Oliver Drake (currently on the DL), Mychal Givens and other young arms in AAA, Hunter and Matusz can’t continue to struggle at the big league level. I see them getting moved possibly in a big trade because alone they don’t have much value.

JB – The one player I mentioned above that I would move from the 25 man roster that could improve the team going forward is Chen. But if I had to make a move to acquire some major league talent, it would be Dylan Bundy. I know I just said earlier that he wouldn’t garner the value injured as he would if healthy, but I just think another GM would see his ceiling as too high to pass up on. Especially since Bundy has to be on the Orioles 40/25 man roster going into 2016. I think the Orioles could kill two birds (see what I did there) with one stone moving him for a player/s that can help this team in ’16 and beyond.

4. Dariel Alvarez has been hot lately in Norfolk.  In 40 games since June 1, Alvarez is batting .335 (55-for-164) with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. Alvarez, 26, ranks among the International League leaders in total bases (first with 160), at-bats (first with 361), hits (second with 102), games (tied for second with 91), home runs (tied for seventh with 13) and RBIs (ninth with 48). When does he get a call-up for this team and whom does he replace?

ZW – We’ll have a roster move coming up when Kevin Gausman gets activated, so I guess my answer is ‘whichever soft hitting outfielder is leftover.’ I think Chris Parmelee is the first DFA candidate, followed by Nolan Reimold.

JE – I have to be honest, I’m not that high on Alvarez. If the Orioles are going to address their corner outfield problem, I think they should solve it. With major league talent. Not another “maybe.” Alvarez would be a welcome addition to this club in September, for the stretch run.

CG – I see Alvarez getting the call this next home stand when Atlanta comes in. I think Chris Parmelee is on his last leg with the Orioles. A good offensive performance against a struggling Justin Verlander and horrendous Tigers bullpen shows me nothing. With that move being made, I see Davis returning to 1st base unless Alvarez struggles in the field.

JB – As I stated above, I’ve been a Dariel Alvarez guy since he’s been in the Orioles system. His arm is rated as a 6 (out of 7 in scouting terms) and he’s raking at the AAA level making the International League AS Team and HR Derby. His numbers alone should make him a bona fide candidate to join the Orioles big club as soon as August, imo. Problem is, who goes? Travis Snider, David Lough, Nolan Reimold, Chris Parmelee are all potential DFA guys if Alvarez is promoted. That would make DD’s off-season resume even more concerning once he (if it happens and I expect it to) glaring after the $11.7 Mil of PGA’s 401K he’s burned so far. But Buck doesn’t care about that-nor should he-and I think he thinks Alvarez deserves the shot to see what he can do at the Major league level and I expect that to happen no later than August 15th.

5.  The AL East continues to be a tight race with the Yankees currently leading the division.  Which team do you believe poses the biggest concern for the Orioles down the stretch?

ZW – None of them really scare me. I still think that the East is the Orioles division to lose. But I think the Blue Jays offense scares me the most against the Orioles pitching.

JE – The Blue Jays. They seem to have the Orioles’ number this year. They have creamed the Orioles. Even if the Jays fade, and turn out not to be a factor in the AL East race, some poorly timed rough series with the Jays could knock the Orioles out of contention.

CG – I see the Yankees being the biggest threat to the Orioles. I will argue that the teams are very similar in that their rotations are less than average, the back of their bullpens are elite, and they play great defense and mash home runs. I see a 2012-type division race with the last three games in Camden Yards against the Bronx Bombers deciding the division title.

JB – If the Orioles are to contend for the AL East title AGAIN this year, the team that poises the biggest threat to me at least is still the Yankees. I understand everyone is waiting for Tex/ARod/Ellsbury etc to get hurt, but we are far enough in that those concerns shouldn’t be there-at least for now. Their SP has been mostly consistent (Tanaka, Nova, Pineda) and their 8th,9th inning BP guys are as good as anyone this side of KC/Orioles. I still think they need to hit more outside Tex/Arod to really pull away in the division, but they would still poise the biggest obstacle to the Orioles chances to repeat, in my opinion. The Blue Jays have the offense and do posses the best collection of prospects to bolster their pathetic SP rotation (Cueto, Price, ect), but until they do it I just expect them to fade per usual.