I’m sure most of you have heard, but the big news of the weekend was the O’s trading Andrew Cashner. On Saturday, Mike Elias agreed to a deal with Boston that gives the Sox the back-end stability they coveted, while bringing two 17-year old international prospects to Baltimore’s system.
Since the two position players don’t carry huge names or a known potential because of their age, there’s been a decent amount of backlash for the trade, as many feel Elias sold low on Cashner.
However, in this week’s Hot Take Tuesday, I’m here to tell anyone who agrees with those sentiments off.
In reality, this was the most important trade the Orioles will make before the deadline.
I’d say there are three prongs to my argument here, but the first piece is that Elias was able to get out in front of the starting pitcher market this July by trading Cashner a few days ago. Normally, contending teams rush to shore up their rotation for a playoff and title push, meaning sellers are able to field nice returns for their arms.
For many fans, that was the assumption, and it was a fair one. However, given Cashner’s expiring contract, career numbers, and lack of dominant stuff, it was never likely that the O’s would bring in a highly-regarded (or even widely known) prospect.
Most importantly, the Orioles may have found themselves grappling for position in the market as other teams made pitchers more impressive than Cashner available in the near future. Names like Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, Zach Wheeler and even Noah Syndergaard could have driven Cashner’s value down significantly, harming the return the O’s could have swung.
Given the context, the Orioles really didn’t sell low at all. Instead, they may have maximized profit.
The second aspect to this argument takes care of the direct comparison it’s making: the other moves that Elias could make before the trade deadline.
Listening to 105.7 the Fan this morning, Ken Weinman and Ed Norris agreed that the two other O’s most likely to be dealt are Mychal Givens and Jonathan Villar. Those two (among others) were also examined by my colleague Matt Pyne yesterday.
While Villar simply would never have brought a great return, trading Givens will almost certainly be selling low.
Givens has been a let down all year, though he has made a bit of a resurgence as of late, somewhat similar to the one made by Jonathan Schoop last year. History has shown the Orioles could make a deal working off of such an improvement; however, I don’t think that makes too much sense in Givens’ case.
With so much control left over him, he’s an intriguing player for both the Orioles and other contending teams. However, since the O’s are able to hold off on trading him until next year without losing much value (as they would if next year were the last of his deal), it would behoove Elias and company to trade the righty at the Winter Meetings or count on a return to form in 2020.
If they trade Givens now, there’s no doubt the return will be underwhelming compared to what it could be six months or one year down the road.
The most compelling part of this trade for me, though, is not necessarily about the skill of the players that made up the return, but their identities as international prospects.
When it comes to potential deals for Villar or Givens that might include low-level prospects that are already at AA or AAA, previous Orioles brass could have struck up those trades.
In this case, the players acquired show just how deep the current O’s regime is scouting, signaling a shift in approach that other trades wouldn’t.
The Cashner trade shows that GM Mike Elias is making a serious commitment to building an international pipeline that feeds the Orioles with talent for years to come.
What’s more, given how young these players are, it’s likely that Elias and Sig Mejdal scouted and liked these guys while at Houston.
Given how well the Astros have scouted internationally, I’d like to think that’s the case, and that the mindset taken while bringing in players like Carlos Correa was used when finding the best return for Andrew Cashner.
Assuming that it was, no other deadline deal that the Orioles make will be as important as this one.