The Colorado Rockies may need to cross one intriguing, controllable starting pitcher off their wish list this winter, as the Baltimore Orioles apparently made it clear they have no intention of parting with Kevin Gausman, even for an outfielder like Carlos Gonzalez. This, according to a report from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
On Friday afternoon, in his long list of meticulous notes about winter happenings around baseball, Heyman included this little tidbit buried in his section of Hot Stove news for the Orioles:
The Rockies wanted Colorado product Kevin Gausman in a package for slugger Gonzalez, but Baltimore is making clear it doesn't want to part with Gausman.
Gausman, 24, would make a lot of sense for the Rockies for several different reasons. A product of Grandview High School in Aurora — and then Louisiana State University — the right-handed pitcher appeared in 25 games (17 starts) for Baltimore in 2015, logging a 4.25 ERA in 112⅓ innings, with just 2.3 BB/9 and 8.3 K/9. Over his career, Gausman has appeared in 65 games (42 starts), all with the Orioles, logging a 4.21 ERA (3.79 FIP), 2.6 BB/9 and 7.9 K/9.
If there's one knock on Gausman's early career, it's his 1.4 HR/9 in 2015 (plus 32 allowed across 273⅓ career innings), and 38.1% fly ball rate (which was second-highest among Orioles starters on the year, behind only Wei-Yin Chen) compared to just a 44.7% ground ball rate. Nevertheless, with high strikeout rates, low walk totals, some success early in his career and a controllable contract — Gausman won't be a free agent until 2021 — the Rockies are right to inquire about his availability.
Now, that appears to be all for naught, as one of the Rockies' strong hypothetical trade partners for Carlos Gonzalez has indicated they won't part with at least one talented, controllable arm in return.
For the Rockies, inquiring about Denver native Gausman may betray another one of their targets this winter, pitching for another team that could also be looking for an outfielder via trade: Marco Gonzales, with the Cardinals. Like Gausman, Gonzales is a Colorado product who reached the big leagues quickly, and is controllable; he won't be a free agent until 2022. And like the Orioles, the Cardinals may have interest in adding a veteran outfielder this winter.
As for any Rockies-Orioles rumors through the rest of the winter, taking Gausman off the board obviously impacts whether general manager Jeff Bridich reaches out to Baltimore again. The Orioles have five starting pitchers in their list of top ten prospects, though the club may be loath to part with Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy, their two best overall prospects. Those two are still a season or two from the Major Leagues, and each has missed considerable time recently with injuries that may raise red flags for opposing general mangers though, too.
Closer to the big leagues are right-handers Mike Wright (#7 MLB Pipeline prospect), and Tyler Wilson (#9), both of whom made their Major League debuts in 2015. David Hess, another right-handed starter, rounds out Baltimore's top ten, but only just reached Double-A for the first time in 2015, logging 10 innings. Obviously, pitchers like that would need to be included in a more significant package for an outfielder like CarGo.
For now, though, it appears the Rockies' top target in Baltimore is off the board, and Bridich might do better testing the waters elsewhere with his star right fielder. For the Orioles' part, in that same post, Heyman indicates the club is looking at Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier as a trade target, too.
The hot stove continues to simmer...