It has been a fun five years, but it is time for the Orioles to rebuild for the future and replenish their depleted farm system. Bleacher Report ranked the Orioles as the second-worst farm system in baseball. I am no expert but I know that is not good. Over the last few seasons, the O’s have resorted to trading good prospects in order to better the pro team. In some cases, it worked out for the Orioles. For example, in 2014 the Orioles traded Eduardo Rodriguez to the Red Sox for Andrew Miller. This trade was probably Dan Duquette’s best trade in his 5 years with the Orioles. Miller was an integral part in helping the Orioles win the American League East and coming four wins away from the World Series. Then there is the trades that did not pan out. In 2012, the Orioles traded Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger ’04. It has been well documented how bad this trade turned out. Arrieta and Strop both played key roles in helping Chicago capture their first World Series title since 1908.
If I were the Orioles GM for one day this is what I would do: first, I would trade Zach Britton. Why would the Orioles trade one of their best players on the team? It makes sense; a good closer is a valuable weapon for any team, and the Orioles just so happen to have the best closer in the MLB. Zach Britton is scheduled to become a free agent in 2019 and will cost a pretty penny.
The Orioles will have to decide whether to extend Machado and Schoop or Britton and Schoop. There is no way the Orioles would be able to keep all three. The Orioles should trade Britton now while his stock is through the roof, Britton could bring in the type of prospect package that the Red Sox gave the White Sox for Chris Sale. A trade that would make sense for the Orioles would be to trade Britton to the Rockies for prospects Brendan Rodgers and Riley Pint. The Rockies have made a big splash in the free agent market by signing Ian Desmond, and looked poised to compete in the tough National League West. Rodgers who primarily plays at shortstop, would become the heir to J.J. Hardy and lock down the Orioles infield for the next decade. Pint is a hard throwing pitcher who all ready has untouchable stuff. Pint would hopefully help fill in the Orioles rotation with Tillman, Gausman, and Bundy.
The last thing I would do as the Orioles GM would be trading fan favorite Adam Jones. This would be a highly unpopular move in the Orioles community, but Jones does not have the same pop he did three years ago. Jones is currently under contract until 2019, and over the next two seasons the Orioles owe him $33 million. Don’t get me wrong, I love Adam Jones, but his offense is starting to decline. He has become less and less disciplined at the plate, Jones struck out 115 times last season and walked 39 times. Most players as they progress through their career become more disciplined at the plate, but in this case, he keeps reverting to his old ways. The O’s need to get younger, and to do that we can not keep players just because he is a fan favorite. A trade that would make sense for the Orioles would be to trade Adam Jones to the Cubs for prospects Mark Zagunis and Rob Zastryzny. Zagunis has developed into one of the top outfield prospects in the Cubs farm system. The problem with that is the Cubs corner outfield positions are secured. As of now the Cubs are lacking in a center fielder with Dexter Fowler testing the waters of free agency. Zagunis would be the future right fielder for the Orioles and he gets on base. The Orioles desperately need a player who is willing to take a walk to get on base, and with Zagunis only being 23 years old he would fill a major need for years to come. Rob Zastryzny is the 20th ranked prospect in the Cubs farm system. He is a deceiving left-handed pitcher who has the potential to be a part of the starting rotation, or at worst become a top of the line relief pitcher.
With these two moves the Orioles would be able to restock their farm system and be able to build around Manny Machado for the coming years. So far there have been no sign from anyone in the O’s organization to rebuild or even consider rebuilding, but this is definitely something the team should think about to succeed in the future instead of the now.