The Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies made a rare February trade today, with Baltimore sending starter Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies in exchange for starter Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom. Guthrie then immediately agreed to an $8.2 million contract in his final year of arbitration.
I don’t understand this deal at all for either team. Guthrie is a solid starter with three straight years of 200+ innings, and has three out of five years in his career with an ERA under 4.00. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys (5.52 per nine) and doesn’t walk an extraordinarily low amount either (2.68 per nine). His career ERA is 4.19, his career FIP is 4.68, he’s accrued 10.9 fWAR during his career, and he only has a 40.6% career groundball rate.
Hammel just isn’t that great at all. He’s never thrown 180 innings in a season (although only his last three have been as a starter). He has a career 6.25 strikeout rate, and a career 3.11 walk rate, and he gets groundballs at a higher rate than Guthrie, logging it at 45.1%. Lindstrom is a former closer with the Marlins and Astros, but actually, his best season came last year in Colorado, with an ERA of 3.00, but a strikeout rate that fell to 6.00 per nine and a 2.33 walk rate that was more than a walk per nine lower than his career norm.
This really seems like an underpay by the Rockies for Guthrie. He’s not great by any means, but is a good innings eater and might be able to improve a lot getting out of the AL East. His already sky high 1.22 homer rate could go into the stratusphere in Denver, though. As for the Orioles, they get…a couple of guys who won’t push them over the top, and won’t really give them hope of jumping out of the cellar in the AL East. When you’re able to dump one of your top trade assets for that, you need to do it…right?