Starters Jake Odorizzi of the Rays and Collin McHugh of the Astros continue to draw trade interest, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes, though he adds that neither is evidently close to being dealt.
With all the top free agent starters still unsigned, some teams are surely still waiting to see whether they can land a bigger fish before turning to these sturdy hurlers. Still, both are certainly accomplished enough to believe that they could be targeted as more than mere fallback options.
Odorizzi has not even yet turned 28 but already has compiled 705 1/3 innings of 3.83 ERA pitching in his career. On the other hand, he’s coming off of a homer-prone season in which he surrendered a personal-high 4.14 earned runs per nine. McHugh, 30, posted strong results last year after a somewhat tepid 2016 effort, but only after missing a major chunk of the season due to injury. He ended up posting a 3.55 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 63 1/3 frames over a dozen starts.
Importantly, both Odorizzi and McHugh are still playing out their final two seasons of arbitration eligibility, making for a favorable financial situation. Their 2018 salaries remain unresolved, but neither will break the bank. As MLBTR’s 2018 MLB Arbitration Tracker shows, the former will play for somewhere at or between $6.3MM and $6.05MM while the latter will land in the range of $5MM and $4.55MM. In both cases, there’s no commitment for 2019; potential acquirers will no doubt value the chance to pick up what’s effectively a floating-price option for an added campaign.
All things considered, it seems clear that there’s excess value in the rights to each player. Just how much — and how much it’ll fetch on the trade market — is an open question. As Rosenthal notes, both teams are looking for something in return in dangling these established starters.
At the same time, of course, the Rays and ’Stros have reasons to move the players in question, largely due to the presence of other pitchers. In that regard, their availability has long been evident. Tampa Bay has long been said to be looking for ways to trim payroll and reallocate some resources; Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a few days ago that a trade is almost inevitable to take place at some point. In Houston’s case, the club simply doesn’t have an open rotation spot after dealing for Gerrit Cole earlier in the offseason.
Rosenthal pegs the Orioles as a team with interest in Odorizzi and perhaps also McHugh. That’s not surprising, as Baltimore continues to hunt for multiple starters. The Twins have long been tied to Odorizzi, and Rosenthal suggests that remains the case. Previously, too, the Nationals have been connected to Odorizzi.
It’s not difficult to imagine quite a few other organizations having interest in both of these starters, particularly when one considers what it might cost to acquire free agents such as Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and Andrew Cashner. Certainly, the ongoing availability of Odorizzi and McHugh could continue to weigh down interest in those open-market options to some extent.
There are other plausible trade candidates that could factor in the overall picture, it’s worth bearing in mind. Beyond top targets such as Odorizzi’s teammate, Chris Archer, organizations looking for solid but affordable rotation pieces could try to acquire hurlers such as Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks, Dan Straily of the Marlins, or Danny Salazar of the Indians.