Last Monday, my fellow ESR blogger Dillon Atkinson wrote an article focusing on the numerous Orioles players that could be available for trade to the rest of the MLB. Honestly, Dillon sort of stole my thunder, as this post was about to be my Hot Take Tuesday. Luckily, it’s a story that could wait a week, so here we go.
While there are a great deal of players that Mike Elias may consider moving, the Baltimore Orioles are not going to be legitimate sellers.
Before you turn on me, understand that there’s a great deal of circumstance playing into this take. And, understanding that they’re sitting at 24-60 at the beginning of July, I am not under some Duquette-esque delusion that the O’s are one piece away from contending. They’re not going to be buyers in any capacity.
What I mean by this, really, is that the Orioles are not in a position to be one of the primary sellers that contending teams focus on for players. In reality, the Birds have few players that the league will be sincerely salivating over, and even those they do have might prove extremely tough to part with.
Because I almost completely agree with Dillon’s list of players the O’s will make available, we’ll work off of that to see what I’m talking about here.
The first group of players I’ll use to advance my point are those who I see very few teams holding considerable enough interest in to deem them real trade chips: Richard Bleier, Dwight Smith Jr., Mark Trumbo, and Pedro Severino.
Running through those names quickly, Bleier’s performance has dropped too much since his injury, Smith Jr.’s hot start has seemed to pass him by, Trumbo’s inability to make an appearance makes his departure via trade extremely unfeasible, and Severino’s strong season might not be enough for teams to overlook the fact that he was unable to provide a bat before arriving in Baltimore.
In each of these cases, it’s unlikely that the demand from other teams would be strong enough to lead to considerable return.
Next, there’s a few names who might have been decent chips in the past and could be in the future, though their respective 2019 campaigns will have surely lowered their value: Mychal Givens and Dylan Bundy.
For both of these arms, the Orioles have had opportunities to deal them in the past, especially with Givens. Just last year, teams coveted the mix of talent and control over Givens, making him an intriguing option for a bullpen addition to contending teams.
Unfortunately, with Bundy sporting a 3-10 record and a 4.91 ERA, he’s positioned himself as an average-at-best starter. Against the field of other starters who may be available from truly compelling sellers, Bundy isn’t someone the Orioles will be able to part with for anything worth getting excited over.
Givens is a similar case, as the 29-year old reliever has pitched to a woeful 5.06 ERA in a campaign marred by inconsistency. He’s shown an inability to be a reliable option in high-pressure scenarios, making his name far less exciting to contenders who are looking to bolster the back end of their bullpen for a playoff run.
While I’m sure the Orioles will be able to deal these guys if they truly intend to, the poor seasons that Givens and Bundy have put together, combined with the fact that the O’s will retain their rights for a few more years, means that Elias and company will be better served waiting and hoping that the two righties fulfill their potential and make themselves solid chips to ship off in the future.
Starting with Cashner, contenders may be interested in the opportunity to bring in a consistent and seasoned back-of-the-rotation arm who could deliver every five days. Make no mistake, while a 4.03 ERA is just slightly above average in the AL, Cashner has been very good. We all know its tough to pitch in the AL East, but its even tougher when you’re on the worst team in the majors. This year, Cashner has proven himself to be a viable option for any rotation, so teams should be calling Elias to present an offer.
Next, anyone who’s followed the Orioles at all knows that Mancini has had an outstanding year. Unfortunately, it appears that it won’t get its deserved recognition as he was snubbed from the AL All-Star roster, but nonetheless, a .302 average with 17 home runs and 40 RBI is outstanding production. Keep in mind, Mancini’s delivering those numbers without any protection in the lineup. Knowing that and understanding that he’ll be under any team’s control until 2022 makes him a very real piece who could bring tremendous value (perhaps even a Top-100 prospect).
The problem with both of these names, however, is that the Orioles are extremely unlikely to part with them.
Mancini has become the default face of the franchise and by far the best player on the team. At some point, it’s going to come down to putting butts in seats. With multiple seasons remaining on his contract, might Elias wait to ship off the fan favorite?
In Cashner’s case, the wildly compelling case against dealing the arm is that he represents the Orioles’ only consistent veteran starter. As has been well-documented, the pitching staff has been atrocious and there are no real options for the Orioles to call upon in the near future. Due to that alone, is Cashner simply indispensable? In my opinion, the answer’s yes.
For those reasons, I believe the only player of considerable value that Elias may gather legitimate offers for is infielder Jonathan Villar, a super-speedy switch-hitter who’s batting .254 with 10 dingers and 35 RBI. He’s not a great player, but he’d be valuable for a team looking for infield help and pinch runners. In fact, I actually think the O’s would get a fairly enticing return for Villar.
However, while that may be true, Villar’s name isn’t one that’s going to set the Hot Stove on fire. And if he’s the only name the Orioles are making available, which may very well be the case, the Birds won’t be a team that’s taking the league by storm as an absolute fire-seller, like they were last year.
They were never going to have the names available that they did last July, but due to the lack of interest their players will garner and the lack of return they’ll be setting themselves up to receive, to call the Orioles one of the sellers of the league is inaccurate.
Quite frankly, when it comes to selling, they won’t be able to do that much.