The Baltimore Orioles have one of the most explosive offenses in baseball. Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis are all top power hitters in the middle of a strong lineup. One obvious weakness on the roster is their starting rotation. After a successful 2013 season, the five-man rotation they currently employ have all had their share of struggles in 2014. Instead of relying on the offense to pick up the slack and score the extra runs, the Orioles need to trade for a pitcher. These are three starters they should target at the trade deadline in July.
The Chicago Cubs are consistently one of the most active teams at the trade deadline. Unfortunately for their fans it usually involves a talented player clearing out his locker. Two pitchers in 2014 having very good seasons for the last place Cubs are former Oriole Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardija.
Assuming Hammel, who signed as a free agent with the Cubs after spending two seasons with the Orioles, is not of any interest to the team then the next option on the Cubs is Samardija. A big right handed pitcher whose biggest fault seems to be pitching in an abysmal era of Cubs baseball, Samardija continues to show signs of improvement each season. At almost 30-years-old without a huge resume the Cubs’ asking price for Samardija will not be too high. The Orioles would only have to give up a little bit to have a hot pitcher with no long-term commitment if things don’t work.
If the Orioles are looking to bid a little higher they may want to look only slightly north for the solution. The Philadelphia Phillies will not come near the playoffs in 2014 and one player they might be willing to trade away is Cliff Lee.
The caveat with taking on Lee would be working with the Phillies on how much of his future salary will continue to be paid by the Phillies. One of the most expensive pitchers in baseball, he remains effective and is nearly worth what he earns. It would probably take some top prospects to get Lee, although for a pitcher of his caliber it would behoove the Orioles to do whatever they can to win now while they have a successful team assembled. A veteran like Lee in the locker room itself could give the Orioles an edge and even improve the culture of the pitching staff.
Strike while the iron is hot and the price for Alfredo Simon of the Cincinnati Reds could be higher than necessary. Fortunately for a team like the Orioles in desperate need of pitching help, the Reds are not very committed to keeping Simon around for any longer than necessary.
Simon, who spent the first half of his career with the Orioles, has been working as a starting pitcher in 2014 for the first time since 2011. Early success for Simon has him as a very marketable pitcher to head elsewhere, especially considering the Reds’ struggles and limited need to keep him around. The biggest fear of Simon coming to the Orioles would be that he is now pitching in a much tougher division. The American League East has some of the best hitters in baseball, not all of them playing their home games in Baltimore. This excuse is good enough. The Orioles can get Simon for very cheap. Even if his stellar pitching performance does not last beyond 2014, this is a team that should live in the present and get someone playing the best baseball of his career.