Saturday, July 30, 2011

What exactly do the O's expect for Guthrie?

MLB's non-waiver deadline is July 31, so the Orioles still have two days to trade Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, or anyone else they deem worthy of a deal. And even though it can make sense to wait until the last few hours to make a deal -- other teams that are bidding against each other may get desperate and overpay -- I can't help but get the feeling that the O's are asking for too much in return for some of their players. And then I read the following on Roch Kubatko's latest School of Roch post:
The Tigers and Indians remain serious suitors for Guthrie. The Orioles need a major-league ready arm. They'd love a first base prospect.

They won't dump Guthrie and be left with another gaping hole in their rotation, but the offers might have sweetened tonight.
If the O's are trying to fool teams into thinking they absolutely won't deal Guthrie or Uehara unless a major-league ready arm or premium first-base prospect is included in the deal, that's fine, I guess. But if they really think one of those will be thrown in, they're fooling themselves.

Guthrie is a slightly above average starter, and he's under team control (last arbitration year) for one more season. He's making $5.75 million this season, so unless he completely falls apart the rest of this season, he'll receive a raise. Uehara's case is a little different: He's making only $3 million this season and has a $4 million vesting option for 2012. Guthrie is slightly more valuable because of the amount of innings he throws (he's a starter, after all), but when factoring in the money owed to each and how well Uehara has been pitching, there's not an enormous difference in their values. Some team might actually pay more for a lights-out reliever like Uehara rather than a decent starter like Guthrie. Again, it all depends on which teams are serious about trading.

Guess what, though? The O's are 42-60. Guthrie has aided their weak rotation this year, and without him the O's would be worse. But they wouldn't be that much worse that they should consider holding onto him just because they aren't overwhelmed with a significant trade offer. That doesn't mean the O's should give him away for nothing, but he should be dealt. This situation is similar to their decision to keep Luke Scott at the height of his trade value instead of getting a decent prospect or two in return. And look how that's turned out.

So what should the O's expect in return for Guthrie? A Dempsey's Army post by Donovan Moore tackled that very topic on July 21:
[I]n order to break even any potential trade for Guthrie, the Orioles would need to get back a Grade B hitter ($5.5M) + a Grade C pitcher 22 or younger ($2.1M). Given MacPhail’s affinity for pitching prospects, maybe he would look to get back a Grade B pitcher ($7.3M) + a Grade C hitter 23 or older ($0.5). These would be instances where the Orioles set themselves up to break even on a deal for Guthrie—but if offered anything more than these examples, they should definitely jump right on it.
I encourage you to check out the whole post for the tables and rationale on why the O's need to deal Guthrie now.

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