Why The Orioles Should Look To Move Guthrie

Steve O Speak

Among Orioles fans Jeremy Guthrie is an interesting case. On one hand he has been a very durable pitcher, who pitches well nearly every time he takes the mound. While on the other hand he hasn’t put up the win totals you’d expect to see from one of the team’s top pitchers. The reality is pretty much in between those two viewpoints, as Guthrie is a solid-good pitcher, but not a great one or an ace. Something else that is hopefully becoming abundantly clear to O’s fans (and hopefully the team) is that Guthrie should be actively shopped on the open market.

Now I know some O’s fans will want to hang on to Guthrie and not open another hole up in the rotation, but I feel that is a lot of sentimental value, and not based on baseball fact. Guthrie was a late bloomer and is 32 this season, and will be a free agent after 2012 when he is 33. He isn’t really part of the Orioles youth movement and really can’t be counted on for too many years going forward. Also, he is just an above average pitcher and not some elite ace, so while he’ll be missed it won’t exactly be a major blow to the O’s.

While Guthrie isn’t a stud pitcher he will have a fair bit of value if the Orioles look to shop him before the Trade Deadline. Guthrie is under control for another year beyond this season so a team would get help for two playoff runs. In addition Guthrie comes at a reduced rate of under $6 million this year (so roughly $2.5 for the rest of the year), and probably at most $7.5 million next year in Arbitration. Most pitchers of Guthrie’s caliber would command $9 million + a year, so a team could view it as a pretty big savings. Although his low win total will be a knock on him, having an ERA under 4.00 in 4 of the 5 years he has been a starter is fairly impressive. What’s even more impressive is that he has done that despite playing in the American League East. Guthrie is a classic strike thrower without being a true strikeout pitcher, and should be seen as a 3 or a 4 on most teams.

While it might seem that the O’s wouldn’t get much for a 30+ year old 3rd or 4th starter, I see them being able to get a fair amount. In addition to Guthrie’s accolades he has a pretty good track record of success and a fairly clean injury history.I also think the Orioles benefit from the fact that not too many other teams are definitive sellers at this point. And those teams that are, don’t really have starting pitching equal to Guthrie.This should make Guthrie be one of the top trade targets among pitchers this trade deadline.

While I don’t see them getting another Erik Bedard package (which included Adam Jones and Chris Tillman), I really think the Orioles can workout a good deal. I would guess they should land two good prospects (aka the type that is in the B- range) for dealing Guthrie. Now it isn’t a move that isn’t without risk, but it is a risk I think the Orioles need to be willing to take.

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