I had the post all ready to go, too. I was prepared to skewer Andy MacPhail for turning into the Orioles of the early 2000’s, trading away what little talent they had in the farm system for short-term fixes that were barely upgrades over what they already had. Fortunately for Orioles fans and unfortunately for my time management skills, the Orioles have backed out of trade talks that would have sent Nolan Reimold (and perhaps Alfredo Simon as well) to Tampa for a one-year rental of shortstop Jason Bartlett. Baltimore will have to look elsewhere for their shortstop.
Reimold is a natural power hitter who, while he was recovering from surgery and personal issues last season had the worst year of his career. Of all the times to deal Reimold, this is when his value was at its nadir. Bartlett symbolized a definite offensive upgrade from Cesar Izturis, but then again I am pretty sure your average Double-A shortstop would be an offensive upgrade over Izturis. That said, Bartlett would have provided a consistent bat (.254/4/.350 last season, .320/14/.389 in 2009) and decent enough defense to be a worthy addition to the club.
Nolan Reimold had a horrible 2010, but this late-blooming hitter had one of the best rookie seasons in 2009, one derailed only by injury issues while he played hurt throughout August and September. For those who don’t recall, Reimold hit .279 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI in just 107 games. He was already developing his power stroke in the majors when it was shorted out by an extended layoff following surgery, rushing back too quickly, and a combination of events that ruined this past season.
Despite his struggles, Reimold remains a top candidate to at least platoon in left field this season with the streaky Felix Pie. Pie, despite a relatively strong 2010 campaign, remains a serious injury concern and a definite work in progress in the field and on the basepaths. At this point in his career, one wonders how close he is to his ceiling. Reimold, despite his age, has shown astonishing growth in recent seasons, and is a player who has a chance to be an everyday starter or better in the majors. There isn’t even any guarantee that Bartlett will be much better offensively than Reimold. If Reimold returns to his 2010 form, he is just as good a bat as Jason Bartlett. For a one-year rental, this just wouldn’t have been worth it- especially given that the Orioles will have to face him on a regular basis.
What is clear is that Bartlett was at the top of the Orioles’ wish list at shortstop, which probably pushed the negotiations as far as they wound up going. They will now have to turn their attention to the likes of J.J. Hardy, who I personally prefer despite his injury history. Given the Orioles focus on Bartlett is it highly unlikely they will settle for the few free agent shortstops on the market, unless they double back to Cesar Izturis as a fallback option. More deals are certainly on the way.