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O's Trade For Hill Will Come Soon ... Or Not at All

According to multiple sources out of Baltimore last night, the Orioles are closing in on a trade for Cubs starting pitcher Rich Hill, with the potential for a deal as early as today. That's a good thing for Baltimore because, if they don't land Hill soon, someone else will in their place.

At least that's the story coming from the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, who said late Sunday night that a deal could be hammered out by as early as Monday morning. Why the rush job, you ask? It's simple: The Orioles were in on Hill earlier, so the Cubs knew to approach Baltimore to get something back for Hill before they have to designate him for assignment, a process that would almost surely lead to Hill getting picked up by another team for free.

Essentially, the Cubs went to Baltimore and offered Hill up on a platter, largely because they figure that something is better than nothing. In that, the Cubs are right. The shift in a time frame for Baltimore, however, results from interest in Hill from other teams, many of them likely to have better trading chips than the Orioles' system does. If a trade for Hill involves one of the ubiquitous "player to be named later" slots, the deeper the system, the better the likely deal for the Cubs.

That's why the Orioles have to strike right away, because if they don't the Mariners, Royals or someone else with a potential starting slot open will jump on a guy with a 12-5 curveball and waning command while he's still cheap at the price.

Of course, as is always the case, there are other complications. The Orioles are still kicking the tires and considering an offer to former Cardinals starting pitcher and, before that, Mets closer Braden Looper. If the O's inked Looper they could still trade for Hill, but that would force them to clear not one, but two roster spots. Those are two cuts Baltimore really doesn't want to make before spring training unless it absolutely has to. Would they make the cuts to accommodate a relatively young pitcher like Rich Hill and a (potential) bargain signing like Looper? Sure. But they won't want to unless they have to, which makes acting decisively -- and quickly -- that little bit harder to swallow.

Will the deal happen? From the sound of Zrebiec's report tonight it sure looks likely, and in the long run, that could be a very good thing for Baltimore.

By Cameron Smith  |  February 2, 2009; 4:53 AM ET
Categories:  Cubs , Orioles  
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There are plenty of stiffs the O's can release to clear space: S Moore, W Perez, H Penn,etc. Getting these 2 guys would be nice so it allows Matusz,Tillman,Arrieta and others to spend the whole year in the minors.
Not great but a hell of a lot better then what we were looking at 2 weeks ago.

Posted by: bulldog23 | February 2, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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