Orioles rumors: Brian Matusz may be headed for trading block

USA TODAY Sports

Once a heralded prospect, Matusz may be getting too expensive for the O's now that he's been relegated to LOOGY detail.

The Baltimore Orioles may forced to trade left-hander Brian Matusz early this fall rather than give him the raise he's headed for in arbitration, reports Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore.

The O's would likely have no issues with giving Matusz -- who is a Super-Two player -- a raise in arbitration if he had panned out as the top-of-the-rotation starter they hoped for when he came up at the end of 2009. As it stands, however, Baltimore paid Matusz $1.6 million in 2013 to serve as little more than a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.

Matusz, 26, put up the best numbers of his career this season, but that's not really saying much. His 3.53 earned-run average and nearly a strikeout per frame in 51 innings look wonderful in a vacuum, but aren't so great when you break them down.

His success has much less to do with Matusz figuring things out than it does with the O's keeping him away from right-handed batters. Righties still batted .302/.375/.372 against the southpaw this year -- right in line with his career norms -- they were just limited to 96 plate appearances.

The new CBA's arbitration rules stipulate that clubs must offer team-controlled players at least 80 percent of their salary from the previous year. This means that the Orioles could technically offer Matusz a salary of $1.2 million for 2014, but there's no way that figure would survive the arbitration process.

The more likely scenario for Matusz would be a raise that puts his salary around $2 million for next season. Baltimore has until December to decide whether to offer arbitration or find a willing trade partner for the southpaw. If the O's do opt to offer him a contract, they'd potentially be on the hook for bigger raises following 2014 and 2015.

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