It’s June 5, but trade deadline talk is already dominating the conversation here in Baltimore. The Orioles are an ace away from being a series World Series contender — although, we could probably say that for a number of teams.
Some top of the rotation talent will likely be available at the trade deadline, including Phillies starter Cliff Lee, assuming Philadelphia is out of the race come the deadline. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com points out that the Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers, all potential suitors, are among the teams in Lee’s no-trade clause.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have enough offense to win the AL East — and more (They are second in the majors with 287 runs scored). But their starters have managed an ERA of only 4.85, and the team has lacked a true ace for years. The Orioles made the playoffs last season despite having just one pitcher start more than 20 games; they probably can’t rely on their lineup and bullpen in quite the same way this year.
The Orioles have cycled through 11 starters already this season. The active roster includes only one pitcher — 36-year-old Freddy Garcia — who has made at least six starts this season with an ERA below 4.00. For those reasons, the acquisition of Lee might do more to transform the Orioles’ chances at a championship than any other team’s.
Lee has been outspoken about wanting to play for a winning team this late in his career. If he’s made available, I would assume he would waive his no-trade clause to join the orange in black in Baltimore.
But don’t get your hopes up. I don’t see the Orioles being willing to ship out the talent Philadelphia would be looking for in return for Lee. Even if they could, Philadelphia remains in the race in the weak NL East and I can’t imagine them punting if they continue to hover around .500.