MLB insider's Guardians-Orioles megatrade for Shane Bieber is unrealistic for 1 reason

The Orioles having interest in Shane Bieber would make sense, but not for that asking price.
Jul 4, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Shane Bieber (57) reacts
Jul 4, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Shane Bieber (57) reacts / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Several star pitchers were traded this offseason including Corbin Burnes, Dylan Cease, and Tyler Glasnow, but one pitcher who many expected to be moved who wasn't was Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians.

The Bieber case is a tricky one, as the Guardians, if things break their way, have a chance to seriously compete in an incredibly weak AL Central. Trading their ace wouldn't help with that, but Bieber happens to be in his final year of team control. With Cleveland's history regarding their own players and free agency, it feels very certain that Bieber will not wear a Guardians uniform past this season. If that's the case, trading him to get something for him obviously makes a lot of sense. There's a balance for Cleveland to worry about with competing and making sure they get something for an expiring asset.

If Bieber is on the block, as MLB Insider Jim Bowden of The Athletic ($) predicts, the Baltimore Orioles make a lot of sense as a potential landing spot. They just don't make any sense for the kind of return Bowden is suggesting.

Shane Bieber to the Orioles makes sense, just not for MLB Insider's asking price

The Guardians were a 76-86 team last season and did nothing to get better this offseason. It's possible they compete in such a poor division, but with Terry Francona out and first-time manager Steven Vogt replacing him, it's also very possible that Cleveland, as Bowden predicts, stumbles out of the gate and trades Bieber.

The Orioles, a team trying to build off of their impressive 101-win season, make sense as a landing spot. There are injury concerns with arms like Kyle Bradish and John Means, and they could always use some more veteran experience. The problem is the asking price.

The Guardians get off to a slow start and decide to trade Shane Bieber to the Orioles in June for a package headlined by outfielder Heston Kjerstad. The Orioles refuse to deal Colton Cowser, Samuel Basallo, Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Coby Mayo but relent on Kjerstad because of their overwhelming outfield depth.

Bowden suggests Baltimore should trade Heston Kjerstad, the Orioles' No. 5 prospect and the No. 32 prospect overall according to MLB Pipeline as part of a package to get 3 months of Bieber. Not only is he suggesting they trade Kjerstad, but as part of a package? You mean to tell me they have to give up more in addition to Kjerstad?

If this was 2020, sure, that'd make sense. Bieber was the AL Cy Young winner in that shortened season and looked like he was going to be an elite arm for years to come. Unfortunately, the right-hander is coming off a down season which saw him post a 3.80 ERA in 21 starts and strike out a well below-average 20.1% of the hitters he faced. Not only did Bieber miss time due to injury, but he saw a concerning dip in velocity as well.

The Orioles sent a package headlined by Joey Ortiz, the No. 62 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to the Brewers to get Corbin Burnes, a far better pitcher who happens to be durable as well, this past offseason. Bowden is saying Baltimore would pay more to acquire Bieber for a shorter period of time. Nothing about this adds up.

If Bieber, like Dylan Cease, had more than one year of team control then sure, he might fetch a decent return. Barring a massive shift in production, Bieber on an expiring contract coming off of such a down season feels unlikely to get much in return. If a great trade was out there, the Guardians likely would've pulled the trigger already. The Orioles might have overwhelming outfield depth, but that doesn't mean they have to trade a near-top-30 prospect for half a season of Shane Bieber. They can and presumably will shoot much higher.