Fear not, lovers of trades. The Orioles and Diamondbacks are here to feed your appetite today. News just broke on a trade that sends a reliever to Arizona and a starter to Baltimore.
Let’s break it down:
RP Matt Lindstrom
SP Joe Saunders
Yep, that’s all. No nine-figure contracts. No high-end prospects. No all-star sluggers. But let me just put it out there right now – this is still a hell of an important trade.
Both the D’Backs and Orioles are striving to make the playoffs. Both have a tough road as they will likely only have a shot in the Wild Card race, with legitimate competition in their respective leagues. As it stands now, the O’s are tied for the second Wild Card with the Oakland A’s, just percentage points behind the Tampa Bay Rays and one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers. And lest we forget about Mike Trout and his pesky Los Angeles Angels, still hanging around.
All in all, the American League looks to have five very good teams battling for two spots.
Over in the National League, the picture is just as muddled. Defending NL West champion Arizona sits 5.5 games behind the Braves, who have a slight lead on the St. Louis Cardinals, who have a slight lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a slight lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Again, we are looking at five legit contenders battling for the final two NL playoff spots.
So if the D’backs want to return to the postseason and make this a regular thing, what did they have to do?
If the Orioles want to finally return to glory after years of cellar-ridden misery in the AL East, what moves could they make?
How about Joe Saunders to Baltimore, for Matt Lindstrom to Arizona? Hey! What do you know?!
The D’Backs were sitting right in the middle of the pack in team ERA and had 14 blown saves on the season. J.J. Putz is doing well at the back end, but how about another solid ‘pen arm to fortify a bullpen and hold late leads that the powerful offense has built?
Answer: Lindstrom. Every team Arizona is chasing in the Wild Card race has incredibly good pitching staffs. That needed to change in the desert, and now it has. Any time you can add a veteran bullpen arm with a sub-3.00 ERA, you did good. Especially when said arm has previous closing experience. Insurance is good, people!
Besides, they wanted to get rid of Saunders, based on the placement of the lefty starter on waivers early last week.
I won’t be coy about it. I think the Orioles made a brilliant move in acquiring Saunders. I think they won the trade if only for the immediate impact that another starting arm can add to that squad.
Because the Orioles have been playing fantastic baseball this season, and despite my high expectations of failure, have continued to chug along and contend this late into the season. The offense is there, but the one major question mark behind Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel (when healthy) has been consistent starting pitching.
I’m not saying Saunders is some kind of super star, but he eats innings (only went less than five innings in two of his starts for Arizona this year) and has had multiple double-digit win seasons between Arizona and Los Angeles (AL). He has shown flashes of brilliance at certain points in his career, and new scenery could do him well.
Sure, the AL East is terrifying for pitchers, but if he even puts together three or four quality starts in big games for the O’s, they are on their way to a Wild Card spot.
On the 2012 season, Saunders has a 4.22 ERA and a scary 1.36 WHIP. Again, he’s no superstar, but will get you quality innings on most nights. Before getting shredded by the Miami Marlins for 9 earned runs in less than four innings in his last start, Saunders’ ERA was a respectable 3.70. Before that it was as low as 3.48.
So here is how I see the trade playing out: The D’Backs added a strong bullpen arm to add some legitimacy to their relief corps. With Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin and Rookie of the Year candidate Wade Miley all performing well as starters at certain points, Saunders became expendable.
The Orioles needed a little pitching depth to go with a hefty offensive attack. They were also middle of the pack in terms of team ERA and quality starts, trailing most teams in the Wild Card chase in those categories. With Hammel back in the fold in the next couple weeks and Chen continuing to grow, the Orioles now have a more solid, albeit very anonymous top three.
If either team makes the playoffs, you can thank the respective GMs for pulling off this very minor, yet impactful waiver trade.
Who do YOU think won this trade? Vote and comment below!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)