Snider deal is latest O’s trade of prospects for help now

Travis Snider is no All-Star, but if he plays for the 2015 Orioles like he did for the 2014 Pirates, he could help the team and be a solid addition as they make another run at the playoffs.

He is going to be 27 on Feb. 2 and is going to make just $2.1 million this season. If the Orioles like what they see, they can offer him arbitration for 2016 and keep him for at least two seasons.

The Orioles acquired the lefty-hitting outfielder Monday night from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later. To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated catcher Michael Ohlman for assignment.

This trade is the latest sign that the Orioles are now a winning organization and a contender, and do business differently from the pre-2012 Orioles that were not. This was the latest deal of prospects for current major league talent. Trading a possible piece for the future for someone that can help now.

At the 2013 trade deadline they acquired pitcher Bud Norris from Houston for minor league pitcher Josh Hader, outfielder LJ Hoes and a competitive balance draft pick. In November 2013, they traded minor league pitcher Devin Jones to San Diego for reliever Brad Brach.

Last year, they traded their third-ranked prospect, pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, to Boston for Andrew Miller. In August, they acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar.

This is quite different from the trade in February 2008 that brought young outfielder Adam Jones, young pitcher Chris Tillman and three others from Seattle for starting pitcher Erik Bedard. Bedard was coming off a season where he went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 182 innings. Those Orioles were looking to build for the future.

Now we wait to find out which player becomes the player to be named and see exactly how much the Orioles gave up for Snider.

Snider is coming off a solid 2014 where he hit .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs and a career-high 38 RBIs in 140 games with the Pirates. He had a particularly strong second half. Over 170 at-bats, Snider hit .288/.356/.524 with nine homers, 24 RBIs and an .880 OPS.

Snider is a former top prospect, ranked as Toronto’s No. 1 prospect following the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He has been ranked on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list three times. He was No. 53 after the 2006 season, No. 11 after 2007 and No. 6 after the 2008 season.

He was the No. 3 prospect in the Eastern League in 2008 and No. 3 in the Pacific Coast League in 2009.

I’m sure the Orioles would love to get a late bloomer here for a fraction of the price and length of contract that they were possibly going to pay Nick Markakis, who left via free agency to sign a four-year, $44 million deal with Atlanta.

Markakis in 2014: .276/.342/.386 (.729 OPS)
Snider in 2014: .264/.338/.438 (.776 OPS)

Markakis compiled those numbers in 642 at-bats and averaged an extra-base hit every 15.3 at-bats. Snider compiled those numbers over 322 at-bats and averaged an extra-base hit every 11.1 at-bats.

Now if Snider has a season as he had in 2013, O’s fans won’t be thrilled. That year, he hit .215/.281/.333 with an OPS of .614.

As much as Markakis was loved by plenty of Orioles fans and for many very good reasons, there is a chance Snider could produce similar numbers at a small fraction of the cost. And without a long-term commitment.

But this time, the cost via trade was two young players and it was a deal that the pre-2012 Orioles would very likely not have made.

Huntington speaks: Click here for MLB Network video of Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talking about this trade. The Orioles’ Dan Duquette and Huntington are two of the three MLB general managers from Amherst College in Massachusetts. Boston’s Ben Cherington is the third. The New York Times wrote about the trio in 2013.

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