Baltimore acquired right-hander Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in an effort to bolster a starting rotation that’s helped the Orioles take the lead in the American League East but now faces fatigue concerns heading into the stretch run.
With a low payroll and a wealth of prospects — particularly position players — the Orioles had a chance to be one of baseball’s most aggressive teams at the trade deadline. Ultimately, they held on to their most highly touted minor leaguers and are bringing in the 27-year-old Flaherty, who can become a free agent after this season.
“We need help with the innings load down the stretch,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “We’ve got a lot of young starters that haven’t done this before. We’ve got members of our relief corps that are injured, tired, so we were just looking for pitching help in all shapes and sizes.”
Flaherty was 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA this year for the Cardinals, who are mired in last place in the National League Central. St. Louis also dealt left-hander Jordan Montgomery to Texas on Sunday.
The Orioles gave up infielder César Prieto, left-hander Drew Rom and right-hander Zack Showalter for Flaherty. Prieto is Baltimore’s No. 16 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and Rom is No. 18, but Baltimore did not part with any of its eight prospects ranked in baseball’s top 100.
“The top of our prospect list is as good as is out there,” Elias said. “It took a long time to get people off of that part of the list.”
That’s not to say the Orioles wouldn’t have traded some of their more highly touted prospects, but they ultimately decided to make a smaller move.
“A lot of teams really fixated on a lot of players that we had that we just didn’t feel were appropriate to go in those deals,” Elias said. “That’s part of why this went to the last minute for us.”
The 24-year-old Prieto hit .317 in 27 games for Triple-A Norfolk this season, and the 23-year-old Rom went 7-6 with a 5.34 ERA for Norfolk. The 19-year-old Showalter went 0-2 with a 2.37 ERA for Class A Delmarva.