Breaking Down The Baltimore Orioles-Chicago Cubs Trade
This past Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago Cubs executed a trade that would send pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to Chicago in exchange for starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger. On the surface, the trade makes sense for both teams, with the Cubs still stockpiling talent and the Orioles badly in need of a stabilizer for their starting rotation.
Baltimore GM Dan Duquette hopes Feldman can be that stabilizer, saying of the eight-year veteran, [quote]”Scott is having a very good year. We were looking for starting pitching, someone to give us consistent work in our rotation, and we feel we got a good one in Scott Feldman.”[/quote]
While Feldman will merely serve as a stopgap (he becomes a free agent after this season), the Orioles are in win-now mode and can afford to trade away two struggling pitchers with good potential.
in 2013 with the Cubs, Feldman had been enjoying one of his better years as a pro. He accumulated a 7-6 record to go with a very impressive (though slightly misleading) 3.46 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. While advanced statistics suggest that Feldman may not maintain those numbers, he still improves Baltimore’s rotation significantly.
On Wednesday, Feldman started his Orioles career by beating the Chicago White Sox, allowing just two earned runs over six innings pitched. He became the 13th different starting pitcher that the Orioles have used this season. That is shockingly high, especially for a team that most consider to be a World Series contender. Feldman now gives Baltimore four proven major league starters, and with Wei-Yin Chen set to come off the DL soon, the Orioles’ rotation is suddenly looking much, much improved.
The Orioles are also lacking organizational depth at the catcher position, and Clevenger helps provide that, though he has only caught 8 games this year and is currently on the disabled list, where he has been since mid-April.
The trade could also work out quite nicely for the Cubs, as many believe that Arrieta needed only a change in scenery to finally figure things out at the major league level. The 27-year-old, after promising rookie and sophomore seasons, had gotten progressively worse with each passing year, struggling mightily in 2012 and 2013. But in Chicago, he will be pitching in a virtually pressure-free environment, which could bring out his best.
Many Orioles fans were beginning to tire of Arrieta, and the general consensus seemed to be that he would never quite make it as an Oriole. Arrieta still has a very high ceiling and really nasty stuff, which is why this trade makes sense for Chicago. If he ever learns how to cut down on his walks, Arrieta could become a very good major league pitcher. But time is running out.
Strop has also struggled mightily for the Orioles this season, but he, too, makes sense as a Cubs acquisition. Like Arrieta, Strop has electric stuff, and it was on full display during the first 4 months of the 2012 season, when Strop pitched to a sparkling 1.34 ERA in 47 innings.
But since then, it’s been a different story, and at age 28, it’s hard not to wonder if Strop’s fantastic 2012 performance was no more than a flash in the pan. Or maybe he, like Arrieta, just needed a change in scenery, as fans and pressure in Baltimore (he was even booed off the field once) seemed to be getting to him.
So while the Cubs, still rebuilding, are taking gambles on high-potential players, the Orioles went with the sure thing, showing they are serious about remaining contenders through the duration of this season.