So far in the offseason, the main player being discussed in trades has been pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie. Our de facto ace, Guthrie has been an innings eater ever since the Orioles claimed him off of waivers from the Indians in 2007. While his record has not reflected it, Guthrie has been a decent number one starter. He eats innings, keeps the ballclub in the game, and serves as a mentor to our younger pitchers.
In 2011, Guthrie led the league with 17 losses and had horrible run support. Through all of that, plus trade talk swirling late in the year, he remained a consummate professional, going out and pitching every fifth day. As an Orioles fan myself, I wish the best for Jeremy, whether it be continuing in Baltimore, or pursuing greener pastures elsewhere.
Multiple media outlets have reported that the Orioles have been in conversation with the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim about the right-hander. One rumor has Huston Street coming to Baltimore in a proposed deal with Colorado. It is still up in the air about the player(s) involved from the Angels if a trade were made.
One thing about Guthrie, is that we all know he is a default “ace” on the Orioles. He has to compete with those elite pitchers like the Sabathia’s, Price’s, and Verlander’s of the world. Regardless of that, Guthrie is a horse. He has pitched over 200 innings in three out of his five full years in the majors. He has also made at least 30 starts in four out of those five years. (Baseball-reference)
This all begs the question, do we trade Guthrie? There are some variables in this equation. My first train of thought would be to settle where Jim Johnson fits into the teams plans next year. There have been rumblings that they want him to make the switch to the rotation. Doing so eliminates one spot. You also figure that Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta (if healthy) are assured spots. That leaves Brian Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergersen, Chris Tillman, and Tommy Hunter for two spots. Tillman would probably start the year in the minors, but the other people will fight it out in Spring Training. I think with those candidates, we have the ability to trade away Guthrie. It is clearly not a star studded pitching staff, but a trade could bring some players back to help us in other areas. Plus, as the old adage goes, you can NEVER have too much pitching. For that reason, teams will definitely be willing to discuss Guthrie. Another point is that he still maintained a somewhat decent ERA pitching in the power heavy AL East.
According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Guthrie is entering his third year of arbitration with the team. If not given a long-term deal, he could presumably become a free agent after the 2012 season. I have a feeling that unless the Orioles bring in a proven veteran pitcher, even on an incentive-laden deal, Guthrie will once again be fronting the rotation for the Orioles this coming year.