One member of the organization insisted today that the Rockies provided "by far the best offer" that the Orioles received for pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Some teams wanted the Orioles to eat a lot of salary and they weren't dangling prospects in return.
The Orioles and Guthrie were $3 million apart and headed to arbitration this morning. The Orioles weren't going to split the difference, and they most definitely weren't going to pay him the $10.25 million that he sought. They deemed it to be an inflated figure for a pitcher who's lost 17 games two of the past three seasons.
They took on about $8.5 million by obtaining Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, so it wasn't a pure salary dump. But they obviously had a different opinion of Guthrie's worth. And they weren't willing to take the risk of holding onto him until the non-waiver deadline, especially if he won in arbitration and his value might have actually gone down. He could have gotten hurt or put up terrible numbers in the first half. And he might have been a rental for any team trading for him with free agency approaching.
On the surface, I don't love the trade. In fact, my first reaction was, "That's all they got for him?" But I can understand some of the logic behind it.
Just don't fret about the Orioles not getting a prospect or two in return. That's wasted energy. It wasn't going to happen.
My guess is that Guthrie will miss having Matt Wieters behind the plate. He's being reunited with Ramon Hernandez. How long will it take for him to notice the difference?
Guthrie also owes Michael Cuddyer an apology. Cuddyer left an Aug. 24 game in the first inning after Guthrie nailed him on the left wrist. Now they're teammates.
Cuddyer tweeted the following earlier today: "I hope u bring some ice w/you. My wrist still hurts! Lol welcome aboard man, Excited for your addition."
I'm told the Orioles could revisit putting Jim Johnson in the rotation, but they still prefer to keep him in the back of the bullpen. One reason is that Johnson has a better chance of staying healthy if his pitch count is lower.
As for the opening day starter, nobody is being tabbed the favorite at this point. Guthrie wasn't viewed as a true No. 1. Same with Rodrigo Lopez when he was taking the ball for the first game. The pitcher who most impresses in spring training could get the assignment.
Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada "contractually" figure to be in it, according to a team official. I'd still expect Tommy Hunter to be included because he can consume innings, which is even more important following Guthrie's departure.
The Orioles weren't bluffing about the young starters having to earn a job. It's conceivable that Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman will be fighting for one spot. It's possible that all four of them lose out. They all have minor league options remaining.
It's worth noting that Arrieta pitched the home opener last season, and that wasn't done by accident. Manager Buck Showalter liked him in that environment. I'll make him the early favorite if he has a good spring.