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Should Brian Matusz Be Used as Trade Bait This Winter for Baltimore Orioles?

October 19th, 2013 at 8:04 AM
By Josh Michael

The Baltimore Orioles, like every team in the league, will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, which includes an everyday DH, left fielder and of course, pitching. Baltimore has very little wiggle room in their bullpen as few pitchers have minor league options left, thus one of the questions this winter is whether or not Brian Matusz should be used as trade bait?

'Brian Matusz' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license:

Matusz, along with several other Orioles, is arbitration eligible this season and Baltimore will undoubtedly give him a qualifying offer. Matusz is one of the best relievers the Orioles have and he is absolutely dominant against left handed hitters holding them to a .168 average this season and a .208 average over his career.

There are however two issues with Matusz that Baltimore will have to decide if they want to deal with or not. First, Matusz has not been shy about him wanting to still be a starting pitcher in this league, and two, he is slowly going to become more expensive as his arbitration years add up. Matusz is under team control through arbitration until at least 2017.

It is unclear just how much Matusz could actually garner on the trade market, and in order for the Orioles to legitimately fill one of the voids they have, Brian would likely have to be added to a deal with other players to do that. There is a market for left handed relievers that can get left handers out, just ask David Ortiz of the Red Sox as he might as well not bring a bat to the plate when Matusz is on the mound.

T.J. McFarland will be able to be optioned to the minors next season now that his rule 5 tag is gone, so that would clear up one spot in the bullpen and would leave Matusz and Troy Patton as the left handers in the bullpen. If that scenario would play out, it is unlikely that Baltimore would part ways with Matusz because his value to the team increases. Baltimore likes McFarland as a starter in the future and it would make sense to let him get some starts in AAA next season if that is the case.

That brings us another question however, as Matusz also wants to start and Zach Britton is now out of options, so he will have to be on the Orioles active roster next season, unless they trade him away. Thus, the biggest question is, who would get more interest and the most in return, Britton or Matusz?

Matusz has proven his worth in the big leagues in a reliever's role, whereas Britton has been very up and down in his time in the big leagues. Britton has shown that he can be dominant or a batting practice pitcher. At this point, it is almost impossible to be able to tell who would get more interest in the trade market, but one thing is for certain, barring injuries, one of these two lefties is likely to be traded this offseason.

Come spring training, manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles will likely do the same thing they did last year in letting Matusz work as a starter because it is much easier to convert him back to a reliever than the other way around. Who knows, if the Orioles do not acquire a starting pitcher this offseason, Matusz could end up cracking the starting rotation, but haven't we been down that road enough?

What do you think? Should the Orioles look to move Matusz this winter? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!


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Tags: Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Brian Matusz, Buck Showalter, MLB, T.J. McFarland, Troy Patton, Zach Britton

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