The Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a deal that will send Cole Irvin and Kyle Virbitski in exchange for Darrell Hernaiz.
Irvin has been a fairly consistent pitcher over the years, and the Athletics seem to be stripping their roster down. In the last year, they have aggressively been on the trade block with guys like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt. They also traded Frankie Montas at the deadline in 2022 and have traded Sean Murphy this offseason. Though, the move still comes as a bit of a surprise as Irvin, 28, might be in the midst of his prime. There was also no indication that the A’s were shopping the left-hander.
The Athletics appear to be stripping the roster down to the studs, Irvin had four years of control, which goes to show that any player is available.
After many years of struggles and going through a rebuild, the Orioles found some positive light last season. They finished with an 83-79 record and were a surprise in the AL Wild Card race up until the last week of the season. They have been on the market for rotational upgrades. Even with looking to add to the rotation, the Orioles didn’t appear to be in the running for any big-name free agents this offseason, which means they may be looking to keep the payroll low.
With that, Irvin’s low salary and four years of control were appealing. The Orioles did add Kyle Gibson early this off-season on a one-year $10 MM deal.
This new change of scenery will come with risks for the O’s, though. Cole Irvin has succeeded in Oakland over the past couple of years with a low-strikeout, pitch-to-contact approach. He’s only walked 5.2% of the batters he’s faced over those two campaigns, which is a very strong number. The league average for starters last year was 7.5%. But he’s only punched out hitters at a 16.8% rate for Oakland, well below last year’s 21.6% league average. His 37.6% ground ball over that span was also a bit below par. That kind of profile has worked for him in the pitcher-friendly confines of Oakland Coliseum but might not be as effective in different conditions.
It’s worth noting that Irvin’s home ERA was significantly lower at home, 3.44, versus that on the road, 4.88.
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