Following the announcement that the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun would be suspended for the remaining 65 games of the 2013 season on Monday, the Brewers went ahead and made a deal for a future big bat on Tuesday.
The Brewers traded spot closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for third base prospect Nick Delmonico.
For Baltimore, the 2013 season has been a pleasant surprise, as the Orioles boast one of the most potent offenses in either league and have been serious contenders in the American League East for the majority of the season.
Despite the success of their lineup, pitching has been the primary question of concern as the Orioles have failed to maintain a consistent and productive starting rotation.
While they currently have one of the premier closers in the game anchoring the bullpen, that of Jim Johnson, the Orioles have been in need of pitching depth in the bullpen (let alone the rotation), especially if they plan on making a serious postseason run down the stretch.
“We were trying to upgrade the pitching to give us a chance to make the run for the AL (East) title and the pennant. So we did what we had to do to help the team now, and we have enough players having good years at the plate,” said Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette.
Rodriguez, who currently ranks third amongst active relievers in saves with 304, has had a resurgent season with Milwaukee in 2013, wherein he has posted a 1.09 ERA in 25 relief appearances and has converted all 10 of his save opportunities.
Johnson has been shaky at times this season (evidenced by the fact that he has already blown six saves this season) and the addition of Rodriguez may be just what propels the Orioles over their competition in the coming months, as any contending team needs more than one player that can pitch in the ninth.
While Rodriguez may fill the void that has existed in the Baltimore bullpen for the next few months, one can argue that trading away a promising prospect for a bullpen rental may not be the most effective team management.
Despite hitting a mediocre .249 with Class A Delmarva this season, Delmonico has displayed solid pop (13 home runs and 30 RBI), has great plate discipline, and projects to hit for average, not to mention the fact that he wields a decent glove at the hot corner.
Baltimore does not have long term options at the corner and may be forced to keep Manny Machado (a true shortstop) at third down the road as a result.
While Machado has excelled at third, J.J. Hardy does not project to remain at short in the long term due to age and the possibility of declining skills (both offensively and defensively), which may leave a glaring hole at short.
In all, Milwaukee received a solid third base prospect in Delmonico and should not be phased with the departure of Rodriguez as they already possess plenty of bullpen help.
As for Baltimore, they got exactly what they needed to become legitimate contenders down the stretch by obtaining the talents of Rodriguez.
Whether or not the trade will prove effective for either team is yet to be determined, as we’ll have to wait and observe as both teams grind on for the final few months of the season.