As many of you, I woke up this morning to the news that the Orioles had made a trade. Finally! Finally the Orioles were coming to their senses, they had traded for some prospects. Not quite. This morning, around 12:15 AM news broke that the Orioles had made a trade for a starting pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson.
For weeks I have championed the idea of trading away our relief pitchers. I even went as far to say that if Dan Duquette, the General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles, made a trade for major league players and not up and coming prospects, that he should be fired. Of course, here I am, as I will be for as long as I put effort into this website, eating my words. Simply put, I like the trade.
As I stated, this morning the Orioles acquired Jeremy Hellickson from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim and Garrett Cleavinger, a Double-A LHP prospect. Some people will be very upset, understandably so, that the Orioles have given up on another minor league pitching prospect. However, as Roch Kubatko tweeted this morning, “The #orioles nearly sent Cleavinger to #padres last summer with Jimenez for Melvin Upton Jr, but trade fell through for financial reasons.” Clearly the Orioles organization has seen enough of Cleavinger and so have I.
Garrett Cleavinger is a 23 year old left handed pitcher that the Orioles drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft. At the time, this is what http://www.baseballdraftreport.com had to say about Cleavinger:
“LHP Garrett Cleavinger (130) going in the third round blew up my market correction on college reliever theory that I touted at various points in the spring, but I still think the pick is fair value for a potential quick-moving late-inning reliever with closer stuff. His control will have to be watched closely as he progresses, but there’s no need to worry about his ability to miss bats. At Oregon he went 12.16 K/9, 13.78 K/9 and 14.85 K/9 in three seasons. There’s velocity (up to mid-90s), a breaking ball (above-average 78-84 MPH), and deception, so add all that up with his track record and handedness and you’ve got a keeper.”
Since then, Cleavinger has had stints in Aberdeen, Delmarva Frederick and Bowie. His ERA has spiked significantly once reaching High-A Frederick (4.82) and Double-A Bowie (6.28). Granted at 23 it is probably still too early to tell how Cleavinger’s career will develop.
As you can see, Cleavinger has no potential to start. My belief is that the Orioles have a recent track record of developing bullpen arms. In fact, I think the O’s already have their future closer in Miguel Castro. Losing Cleavinger will not be that big of a loss in the long term.
The other player the Orioles sent to the Phillies in order to acquire Jeremy Hellickson was Hyun-Soo Kim. Unfortunately for Kim it was simple. We found a future in Trey Mancini.
The other side of the coin of course, is acquiring Jeremy Hellickson. For many of you fans you will remember Hellickson for his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. We spent five seasons watching his rather slow approach to the plate with his devastating ability to drop a nasty changeup in a fastball count. He comes to the Orioles with a career record of 67-63, ERA of 3.98 and WHIP of 1.25. Quality career statistics aside, I am a fan of the trade for a very simple reason.
Jeremy Hellickson is a free agent at the end of this season. We gave up next to nothing to acquire, who will now be, arguably, our best starting pitcher. The Orioles brass seem to believe we are still in this race, they see something that I am clearly missing. If he comes in and pitches well, he helps the Orioles make a run at a playoff spot at a very low cost to the O’s. Also, if all said does go well, why not explore the option of re-signing Hellickson to a deal? If he pitches poorly, you wash your hands free and clear in the offseason.
I like the trade. It was low cost and it still has no affect on us shipping off Zach Britton or Brad Brach, which is the correct move. However, I am bias. Jeremy Hellickson was a guy I wanted the O’s to look into signing in the offseason. Best of luck Jeremy!