Baltimore's early postseason exit makes Shane Bieber trade more enticing

The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching depth, and the Cleveland Guardians can provide just that in Shane Bieber.
Atlanta Braves v Cleveland Guardians
Atlanta Braves v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles were dumped right out of the playoffs after winning 101 games and taking the AL East by storm this season. In a short series against the Texas Rangers and their own juggernaut offense, Baltimore's shaky pitching staff was exposed, leaving young, up-and-coming team with some decisions to make this offseason.

In their three ALDS games against Texas, the entire Baltimore pitching staff got smoked to the tune of a 7.27 ERA. Kyle Bradish pitched well enough in Game 1, but Grayson Rodriguez and and Dean Kremer were shellacked, giving up a collective 11 runs in the second and third games of the disappointing series.

So if the Orioles want to build off this incredible season, they need starting pitching depth. They've got outfielders galore, so why don't the Guardians get on the phone and see what it might take to deal Shane Bieber to Baltimore?

What Would a Shane Bieber Trade to Baltimore Look Like?

With the way Bradish pitched for the Orioles this year, they wouldn't even necessarily need Bieber to be their ace. Bradish finished the year with a sparkling 2.83 ERA in 30 starts, with a 3.27 FIP, 146 ERA+, and 168 strikeouts. Beyond him, though, there are major question marks in the Orioles rotation. Kyle Gibson, 35, likely isn't coming back. Tyler Wells started the season like a bat out of hell but fell apart by the end of July. Rodriquez shows plenty of promise, and Kremer is a solid-enough piece for the back-end of the rotation.

But Bieber would ideally bring them a stabilizing presence in the rotation, giving Baltimore a solid 1-2 punch at the top with plenty of promise beyond that, especially if Rodriguez progresses and Wells regains some of his form.

Not that the Orioles want to start dealing away all of their talent, but their outfield is starting to get crowded. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander are all locked up for the foreseeable future, with top prospects like Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad waiting in the wings to get their shot. Santander, who was once a Cleveland minor leaguer, would look great in right field for the Guardians, where the team could essentially pencil him in for 20 doubles and 20 home runs until he becomes a free agent in 2025.

Though the thought of adding another top prospect to the mix would be enticing, Santander is the exact type of player the Guardians need - a reliable, power-hitting outfielder that gives the lineup true depth. Santander's no slouch, either; he's maintained a 120 OPS+ the past two seasons, averaging 30 home runs and 30 doubles.

As for Cleveland, it would be painful to deal Bieber, but he's entering a contract year and it's doubtful the Guardians would be looking to extend him given the emergence of rookies like Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee, and Logan Allen in the rotation. In a perfect world, Bieber stays and helps the young pitchers continue to develop, but the Guardians need to make some drastic moves this offseason if they want to have any hopes of putting together a major-league-caliber offense next season.

Trading for Santander might not have fans going nuts, but it's the exact type of move Cleveland needs to make to help transform this offense. If, say, Chase DeLauter enters the mix early next season as well, an outfield of Steven Kwan, DeLauter, and Santander is certainly a gigantic improvement over whatever it was Cleveland was throwing out there most nights in 2023.

If a trade like this happened, other players were surely be added to the mix on both sides, but this is the type of move I'd expect Cleveland to make this offseason. And frankly, it has to happen.