The Baltimore Orioles are 42-49, which is good for 4th place in the American League East, and 5 games out of a wild card birth. Since 2012, the O’s have been a very competitive team, especially in what many consider the toughest division in baseball. They have spent a significant amount of time in first place over the last couple of years which is why their fall since May this season has been so hard for fans to handle.
The tough season this team is having is not a “rough stretch,” as they went through last year a couple of times. This is a team that just isn’t that good. For the last few years, the Birds have made a move for a marginal starting pitcher at the trade deadline and hoped that it would put them over the top. This year, a move like that will do nothing. It’s time for General Manager Dan Duquette to decide where this team is truly headed.
For a team that had the best record in the American League from 2012-2016 (and the first month of 2017), the O’s have not been that far off. During that stretch, they were able to make the playoffs three times, which included one AL East Division Title. However, the Orioles have a lot of big name players whose contracts end after next season… Manny Machado, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Adam Jones, and Welington Castillo (if he picks up his player option after this year).
The Birds cannot afford to re-sign all those players. So, should Baltimore do a Miami Marlins-style “fire sale” and get rid of all veterans players to bring in a bunch of quality minor leaguers that will help this team in the years to come? Or do they make a few moves that will definitely hurt the team this season, but could help them re-tool and give it one more shot in 2018 before a full rebuild in 2019?
No fan base wants to go through a full re-build. That can takes years, and Baltimore fans already went through 14 years of a “rebuild” to get to where they have been the last five years. I am hoping for a re-tool this month (and off-season).
According to Ken Rosenthal, Duquette is telling teams that two of these three are available: Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day. If that’s the case, then I would move O’Day for sure, and then I would move whoever I could get more for between Britton and Brach. The other becomes the closer next year, with Mychal Givens as a set-up man.
I would like to see what the O’s could get for Castillo. Caleb Joseph has proven to be a top defensive catcher and offensively, the more playing time he gets the better he has become. Plus, with Chance Sisco and Francisco Pena in the minors, the Orioles have enough depth in that position.
The Orioles still have an offensive core that makes them competitive next year, if they improve their pitching. I’d like to see any moves this month made with the vision of going for a divisional title in 2018. But if next season starts off like this season has, then at this time next year, you could have to look at trading away Manny Machado. You can try to sign Machado long term this offseason, but there is no way that you allow him to reach free agency. If he does, you lose him for nothing.
Adam Jones is another player that is up for debate. Some say that you trade him this month. If you are rebuilding for the future, then yes. But I am retooling for next year and I want Jones on that team. If things go wrong next year then you can try to trade him away before he hits free agency.
The biggest question is Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Will he allow the Duquette to trade away these players? If so, trading away Brach, O’Day, Castillo, and Smith might help as a first step for retooling the Orioles for a run in 2018.