To trade or not to trade. That is the dilemma faced by the Orioles as the upcoming July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Though it has become clear that multiple veteran rental pieces will be moved, the people in the warehouse must decide whether some of the controllable pieces should be made available.
In comes Kevin Gausman.
The 27 year old Colorado native, whose inconsistency has made him an enigma to evaluators and fans alike, is amid one of his better first half performances as an Oriole. Gausman, known for being an outstanding second half pitcher, carries an uninspiring 4.54 ERA through 20 starts this season. However, Gausman has shown some encouraging signs this season, including a strong strikeout rate of 7.615/9IP and a career low BB/9. Furthermore, he has averaged 5.85 innings per start this season, making him an appealing option for contenders in need of managing valuable bullpen innings as he has been able to often work late into ballgames. In addition, his durability over the past three years and his untapped potential make him a prime candidate to be traded for a major haul.
That being said, this is not the right time to trade Gausman. He is having his worst month of the season, carrying a 5.96 July ERA along with a strikeout rate of 4.4K/9. Some of you might say that this is a SSS bias, but no reasonable team would give up a haul for a guy with such a decline in overall performance over the last month. Gausman would become too large of a question mark for contenders attempting to solidify their pitching staff.
We may be getting somewhat overly excited with the thought of a stacked farm system and trading players. The Orioles would be wise to wait off on dealing Gausman in the offseason. If reports of the Orioles viewing Gausman as a front of the rotation starter, their only chance of receiving a fitting haul would be after a strong second half from KG. Even though some of his stats are inflated due to poor defense, Gausman’s season hasn’t good enough to entice contenders to pay the steep asking price.
Some may point to Gausman’s decreased Velo as a major red flag, but in reality it isn’t. His strikeout rate prior to July was well above 8/9 IP and has been a mid-rotation starter. Someone will eventually be willing to trade a haul for him, but it won’t happen this season.
Given that the Orioles won’t be contenders for a few years at the least, KG should certainly be dealt. But the Orioles can’t rush into it. They must be extremely thorough in scouting suitors and should be comfortable with the return. Don’t get it twisted, this has to be a franchise altering trade. And it has to be a win. There is no need to to look further than the Bedard trade of 2008 to see the potential impact of these sorts of trades.