The Brewers and Orioles are “engaged in serious discussions,” per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter), though the precise focus of the chatter remains unclear. He does suggest that the sides could be negotiating over second bagger Jonathan Schoop and/or starter Kevin Gausman.
It’s hardly new to hear that these clubs are on the horn with one another. After all, they reputedly batted around proposals involving Manny Machado and Zach Britton, both of whom were ultimately sent elsewhere. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that the organizations are rather familiar with their respective priorities.
With its two major rental pieces already sent out the door, the Baltimore organization has perhaps shifted its attention to weighing proposals for more controllable assets. That said, the club does still have a few pending free agents to work on. There’s little reason to think outfielder Adam Jones would be of interest to the Brewers, though perhaps reliever Brad Brach might.
Ultimately, though, it does stand to reason that the Brewers would mostly be piqued by the possibility of adding one of the two players suggested by Rosenthal. The team’s second-base situation remains in flux, and it has long figured as a likely buyer of a starter. Having missed on Machado and a few other rental infielders who went out the door today, and with the market for rental starters showing little of real interest in stock, GM David Stearns is surely considering a move for assets that also come with future value.
The idea of giving value for players who’ll contribute in later seasons holds obvious appeal, particularly for a smaller-market organization that has turned back into a contender somewhat more rapidly than was generally anticipated. Much as the team wants to take down the Cubs in the NL Central, it will be cognizant of the need to keep one eye on sustainability. Plus, finding an answer at second and bolstering the rotation will likely be offseason priorities regardless.
Both Schoop and Gausman are players with long-evident talent who have had some ups and downs this year. On the heels of a breakout 2017 season, Schoop slumped through the first half of the current season only to go on a tear over the last month. Gausman, meanwhile, has had some inconsistencies and continues to allow a few too many home runs. But he owns a career-high 11.3% swinging-strike rate and some metrics like him better than his 4.54 ERA (4.59 FIP/4.05 xFIP/4.12 SIERA).
Of course, the Orioles also have little reason to move these two players for less-than-enticing returns, as there’s no pressure to cash them in now. Schoop is earning $8.5MM with one season of arbitration control remaining, while Gausman is taking home $5.6MM with two more to go. The Baltimore organization has acknowledged the obvious when it comes to competing in 2018, but it’s still not clear how long a turnaround the club is aiming for when it comes to putting the next contender on the field. It’s certainly notable that the club has some high-priced veterans on the roster.
In any event, for the time being this seems an interesting story to watch rather than something that’s likely to blossom into a finished deal in the immediate future. Roch Kubtko of MASNsports.com tweets that “nothing is imminent” for the O’s this evening.