As the trade season hits full throttle before the non-waiver July 31 deadline, the Orioles say they are looking for a batter that can pump life into the top of the order and improve their on-base percentage (.302), which ranks 13th in the American League.
Another on-base guy would be perfect for the Orioles, but the question is: What would the Orioles have to pay to get it done? Can they make a trade without giving up blue-chip prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado? Minnesota's Denard Span is available, but he's a premier name on the market, and the guess is that he's too expensive. But, there's also the Phillies' Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino, the Angels' Peter Bourjos, the Brewers' Carlos Gomez and the Cubs' David DeJesus. Any of those guys could play left field and give the Orioles a boost.
Pierre would be a good fit. Span and Victorino could be too expensive. DeJesus is a steady player, and Bourjos and Gomez have the same issues: They have incredible speed but can't get their on-base percentages to stay above .300.
Still, even though the Orioles are contenders, this season's success depends on stabilizing the rotation with productive young pitchers. With Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter in the minors, and Jason Hammel on the disabled list with a knee injury, that hasn't happened.
* With the addition of another wild card playoff team in each league, baseball is in uncharted waters when it comes to this year's July 31st trade deadline. Consider that going into Monday, there were eight AL teams within 1 1/2 games in the wild card race. In the NL wild card race, there are five teams within 3 1/2 games. The new setup has allowed teams like the Orioles to be buyers. But, as far as teams being surprise buyers in the next couple of weeks, there isn't a bigger shocker than the Oakland A's, the team that stripped down in the offseason by trading three All-Star pitchers in a 20-day period.
* The A's are getting strong pitching from former Nationals starter Tom Milone, and they have five players with double-digit home runs: Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Yeonis Cespedes, Seth Smith and Johnny Gomes.
* The Nationals' shutting down of Stephen Strasburg in late August or early September means that there will be constant trade speculation about whether they will add another starter via trade or make up the difference with John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang. Even without Strasburg, the Nationals would have a solid postseason rotation with Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler.
* Barring the miracle, the Phillies will be sellers at the trade deadline. Whether lefty pitcher Cole Hamels gets traded or not will depend on whether the Phillies can agree on a contract extension for Hamels. Hamels likes Philadelphia, but does he think the Phillies will bounce back from this year's misery and be contenders? The Dodgers, White Sox and Rangers, because of good farm systems, would have the best chance to land Hamels, the Brewers' Zack Greinke or the Cubs' Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. ... Interesting that the Phillies haven't been able to win a World Series with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation, but when they won the World Series in 2008, their rotation was Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton and Brett Myers.
* Boston is a strange team to figure. The Red Sox got Jacoby Ellsbury back, and you'd think they'd turn into a contender once Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford return. Crawford returned Monday night. But, the rotation has been so-so. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett haven't been consistent enough, but it still feels like the Red Sox are going to be a contender in the final two months.
* The Detroit Tigers are looking for a second baseman. Odds are that they will get Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies in the next couple of weeks.