Personally, I try to steer clear from merchandise with a player name on the back of it. I can’t lie though, I do own a Chris Davis t-shirt, but it was a gift from my girlfriend. I was stoked when he decided to sign a seven year deal with the Orioles. Not because he was going to be a reckoning force for seven years, no, it was so I didn’t have to disregard my camouflage “19” Davis shirt. I love that thing.
The reason I try to avoid player name shirts is because who knows how long that certain player will remain with the team. There’s only a handful of players that remain with their respective team for the duration of their career, and it seems to be few, and far in-between these days. Sure, the front of it still says “Orioles”, but I don’t know, I’m weird, I don’t want to wear a “25” Palmeiro shirt, with Hyun-Soo Kim owning that number now.
Hopefully we’re on the same page now.
In the case of this offseason, in order for the Orioles to improve their roster without offering a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract, a trade just might be what needs to occur. Given the names that are going to hit the free agent market after the 2018 season, this team should probably try to spend less. But who is the biggest trade piece on the club right now?
It has to be Brad Brach.
When the Orioles acquired Brad Brach via trade in November 2013, he owned a career 3-6 record with the Padres, appearing in 109 games over three seasons, and allowing a 3.70 ERA, with a 4.36 FIP. In his time with the Orioles, Brach owns a 22-8 record, a 2.61 ERA, and a 3.40 FIP in 179 appearances over three seasons. He has become a force out of the bullpen, earning his first All-Star game nod in 2016, and netting his best WAR to date, 2.6. His overall 5.1 WAR would make any team want a pitcher of this caliber in their bullpen. But which team could the Orioles try to make a deal with to improve their 2017 roster? How about with the Seattle Mariners? The Mariners bullpen finished with a 3.55 ERA in 522.1 IP, which was best in the American League West, so why not add a reliever that would not only improve their overall ‘pen, but could also take over duties from current closer, Steve Cishek.
And who could the Orioles target to bring to the east coast? How about left-handed hitter, Seth Smith?
A Brach-for-Smith type of deal would bring a ten-year veteran outfielder, with a career 11.7 WAR, and 13.1 oWAR to the Orioles. In regards to him possibly filling the leadoff spot in the lineup, he’s had 373 total plate appearances leading off, and has a slash line of .256/.327/.443, with 36 extra-base hits, and 32 base-on-balls.
The majority of his time at leadoff came in 2009 with the Rockies, where he went 23-for-92 (.250) in 105 plate appearances, with an OBP of .343. Smith sees more pitches per at-bat, 4.08, than the MLB average of 3.82, and swings at the first pitch just 19.7% of the time, 7.6% less than the MLB average.
His defensive numbers are what the Orioles could balk at. Last season, Smith played 74 games in right, and 35 games in left, and finished with a dWAR of -1.2. Primarily a corner outfielder, Smith has had 1,345 chances, with a career dWAR of -6.6. But in comparison, defenders in right field for the Orioles last season had a -19 DRS, and defenders in left had a -22 vs. Smith’s 1 DRS in right, and -8 in left. Ultimately, as much as it doesn’t seem that way, it could be in an improvement.
Smith is owed $7MM in 2017, and being a left-handed hitter, the Mariners may have to throw in a prospect for this deal to go down. I’m sure there’s no complaining from Birdland there, depending on the right one.
Smith owns a career average of just .202 vs. lefties (.167 in 2016 in 33 plate appearances), and if the front office can get the Mariners to throw in 25-year-old utility man Zach Shank (.290/.354/.377 in 2016 in 464 PA’s), or left-handed reliever Kraig Sitton (2.93 ERA in 34 relief appearances in 2016), this is a deal that just might work out in the Orioles’ favor.