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It’s been an unusually poor year for the MLB teams with bird nicknames, as the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays are all under .500.
Plenty of trade rumors have been swirling surrounding the O’s and Cards in particular, as they each have players who could be great fits on teams currently in the playoff picture.
Here’s a look at some recent trade talk involving two Cardinals and two Orioles.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are in an awkward position in the latest MLB standings. They are under .500 and haven’t looked the part of playoff contenders all year, but they are also just 3.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central.
Complicating matters are the facts that (a) the Chicago Cubs are 11-3 in their last 14 and (b) the Cardinals need to compete with the aforementioned Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates for the division crown.
The Cards are also seven games back of the last National League Wild Card spot, currently held by the Colorado Rockies.
Therefore, St. Louis needs to make a tough decision: Should it go for a playoff berth, or should it build for the future?
If the Cardinals choose the latter, they will have no shortage of teams lining up for starting pitcher Lance Lynn.
Per Buster Olney of ESPN, numerous teams are interested in one of the National League’s best pitchers this year:
Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN
Other teams waiting for clear indication from Cards on whether they intend to trade Lance Lynn. Among most coveted SP in market.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network, the Kansas City Royals and Cardinals have discussed a deal involving the Redbirds right-hander:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Sources: #STLCards, #Royals have discussed Lance Lynn in trade talks, unclear if there is momentum toward deal. @MLB @MLBNetwork
As Morosi also noted, Lynn is on fire right now:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Lance Lynn’s stock is on the rise. He has a 0.71 ERA and .501 opponents’ OPS over his last 4 starts. Great rental trade candidate. @MLB
Over the course of his last three seasons, Lynn has gone 35-27 with a 2.95 ERA. With numerous contenders looking for pitching help, the Cardinals should be able to get a nice haul in return for the right-hander.
Lynn isn’t the only Cardinal who may be on the move, as outfielder Randal Grichuk is on the block, per Morosi.
Grichuk can provide some right-handed pop for a team looking for a little power. He’s hit 13 home runs in just 69 games this year after smacking 24 in 132 contests last year.
He does strike out quite a bit, and he won’t hit for a high average, but in an era where the long ball has returned to prominence, Grichuk can be a big asset for a playoff contender.
Ultimately, St. Louis has a difficult decision to make regarding its future, and it will be interesting to see how this scenario plays out over the next few days.
A 22-10 start landed the Orioles in first place in the American League East, but they have struggled mightily since then, going 26-44 in their last 80 games. They are 6.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League and only half a game above the Toronto Blue Jays, who are in last.
The Orioles’ No. 1 strength the last few years has been their bullpen (they are 11th in reliever ERA this season and finished anywhere from third to sixth in 2014-2016), so naturally, most of the trade buzz surrounding the O’s has involved their relievers.
Per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, scouts are checking out left-handed closer Zach Britton and right-hander Brad Brach as Baltimore takes on the Texas Rangers in Arlington this weekend:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
#STLCards have told clubs they are willing to trade an outfielder, sources say; Randal Grichuk is available. @MLB @MLBNetwork
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed that Britton and Brach are on the trading block despite dealing for Philadelphia Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson:
Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick
Big weekend for the #Orioles and #Rangers in Texas. Lots of scouts expected to be on hand to watch Zach Britton and Brad Brach.
Between 2014 and 2016, Britton was one of the best (if not the best) relievers in baseball, saving 120 games and earning a microscopic 1.38 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.
Last year was his best season, as he saved 47 games to the tune of a 0.54 ERA. That earned him a fourth-place finish in the AL Cy Young vote.
Britton has had an off-year by his standards (3.50 ERA), however, but that’s because of a strained forearm that caused him to miss two months. When he returns to form, he should become one of the best bullpen arms in the game yet again.
Brach has been fantastic in his three-plus seasons in Baltimore, going 24-10 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He’s also proved to be durable, making 62 appearances in 2016, 71 in 2016 and 43 so far this season. He made the AL All-Star team last year.
Ultimately, Britton and Brach will probably be pitching elsewhere in August. The O’s can hit for power (ninth in MLB), but they have the second-worst starter ERA in baseball (5.98) behind only the Cincinnati Reds (6.08). Therefore, it might make sense to trade some bullpen arms for some starting pitching prospects.