Since coming to the Orioles in 2007, Jeremy Guthrie has been anything but trade bait. In his five seasons in Baltimore, Guthrie has been the one pitcher the O's want to hold onto, mainly because he's the one pitcher who has given the club innings. He offered the reliability the O's needed during a time when the club was debuting a number of young arms.
Now, as we approach the July 31 trade deadline, Guthrie could be the O's most valuable trade chip. His durability makes him an attractive fourth or fifth starter to a team still in the playoff hunt.
For Guthrie, being the subject of trade rumors is an unfamiliar position, but the veteran seems very uninterested in hypothetical scenarios.
"I feel like trade talks and trade rumors are a lot like my friend's poodle. His name is Charlie. There's a lot of barking but there's not much biting," said Guthrie. (He admitted he's been waiting for a reporter to ask about being traded so he could use that line. I was the lucky reporter.)
"There's a lot that's said during this time," he continued, "and it's fun for the fans and I think it gives everyone a lot of stuff to do and a lot of homework to do and a lot of research, but at the end of the day, it's not an easy science and not a lot of stuff gets done."
Though it's believed the Orioles would still have to be wowed by an offer for the 32-year-old, there's a list of teams rumored to be interested including the Rangers, Tigers and Indians. I asked Guthrie if he considered the rumors a compliment.
"It certainly can't be a negative," said Guthrie. "It could be a positive that someone would have interest and inquire about a player. It can be taken as a compliment for sure."
There isn't a major league player on Earth who wouldn't be enticed by the possibility of being traded to a contender, but as a clubhouse observer I can honestly say Guthrie seems more personally invested in this Orioles team than any other. In 2007 the clubhouse was dominated by big personalities like Aubrey Huff, Jamie Walker and Kevin Millar. Guthrie didn't always fit in. It's visibly different now as Guthrie has forged close friendships with the young pitchers he was asked to lead.
"I've loved playing here the whole time and it just seems like every year we get better and better guys that make it more and more enjoyable, so this is a nice family," said Guthrie.
The Orioles aren't pressed to trade Guthrie especially not now when the starting rotation is a hodgepodge of spot starters, bullpen arms and Triple-A recalls. It's obvious the Orioles aren't thinking postseason, but they do have to get through the regular season.
Over the O's last 16 games the bullpen has pitched 62 innings. Somebody's arm is going to fall off.
Without Guthrie it could get ugly.