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O’s Right to Stand Pat at Trade Deadline…IF…

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The trade deadline has come and gone and the Orioles largely decided to stand pat.  In a very minor move, the O’s sent Shawn Armstrong to the Rays for cash and they traded Freddy Galvis to the Phillies for a minor league arm that has some bullpen upside. Orioles General Manager, Mike Elias, talked about how they got close to at least one other trade but didn’t feel the offers were good enough to make any moves.

The fans aren’t exactly excited by this decision. I understand why people are upset about it and as someone who loves trades, I love the action of the trade deadline but at the end of the day, I think the Orioles made the right decision to stand pat provided they capitalize on this long term. This is a point I will get back to but for right now, I want to focus on what they didn’t do.

Heading into this deadline, the names that were being discussed were members of the pen (usually Paul Fry and Tanner Scott) and Trey Mancini.   John Means perhaps would have been a bigger contender in terms of being dealt had he not been hurt for almost two months, Means, along with Cedric Mullins, likely weren’t going to fetch enough to make the deals for them. If you are an opposing team, how real do you think those two are?  Do you believe in the health of Means? Do you buy into what Mullins is doing? My guess is teams around the league would need to see more of those guys before offering the types of packages that would make Elias trade them (or at least consider trading them). As for the bullpen guys, I think Elias sees these guys as players who could be a member of the pen when we contend and also, he perhaps believes they could increase their value over the next year. 

Elias talked during today’s press conference that he hopes Trey Mancini is here for a long time. On the other hand, Dan Connolly reported earlier this week that there have been no contract talks with Trey. Now, it is certainly possible that Connolly’s info is incorrect but if it is incorrect, I think you have to ask a simple question…why would you extend him? Mancini has been here for his entire career, he has become a successful player, a leader, a fan favorite and is an inspiration to a lot of people. That being said, he is pushing 30 years old, is limited to 1st base or DH and doesn’t provide a lot of value outside of what he does at the plate. Not to mention, you have Ryan Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman, who should be up by May of 2022, who will get time at first base moving forward and we have a plethora of guys that can be rotated into the DH spot. All of that adds up to what I feel would be a head-scratching decision to extend Trey. 

The other side to the Mancini decision is were you being offered enough to trade him? I think it is very possible that he would be worth more in the offseason than he is now, so there was no need to trade him just to make a deal. He has value and you don’t just flush that value down the toilet to appease the fan base and say, “we made a trade.”

And I also believe that mantra is true for everyone. Let’s say, for example, you could have dealt Fry for another Kevin Smith/Jahmai Jones-type return. In other words, a guy that is going to be ranked somewhere in the 10-17 range on our prospect list. Is that worth it right now? We have plenty of middling prospects that aren’t likely to become everyday MLB players, much less impact players. How many more do you need? This is when the old adage “you can never have too much depth” is actually false. You absolutely can have too much depth and it can cause you to lose guys for nothing, watch guys lose value or just not give the right players the opportunities they should have because there is just a bunch of people ahead of them

For me, I am good that we didn’t trade Paul Fry for a guy that we hope becomes….Paul Fry. That is, a cheap piece on the team that provides solid value for no money. We already have that, what the team lacks are impact prospects, at least depth wise and we didn’t have the horses this year to bring those players in. If we did, Elias makes that deal.

I want to go back to what I mentioned earlier. I said that this was the right move provided that the Orioles were going to capitalize on it. I am of the belief that this team should be pushing .500 next year and contending in 2023. I know that may sound silly given the fact that we will be lucky to win 60-65 games this year and even Elias said today that we have a lot of work to do and it’s a daunting task. For me, I personally believe in a lot of the talent this system has and a lot of it is going to be ready to come up within the calendar year. However, as talented as some of those guys are, we cannot win without outside help and this is where ownership has to step up.

If Elias believes in Scott and Fry to be part of the next good team, he needs to start building that team and it needs to start this coming offseason. If you are going to make the decision to not move middling, role player-type guys on a 60 win team, that means you need to take the next step and start turning the MLB roster into one that can actually win games and be competitive on a nightly basis. I am a believer in Brandon Hyde. I think the team plays hard for him and respects him I am a believer in Mike Elias.  I think he is building the system the right way and focusing on things that need to be focused on.

What I don’t know is if Elias can build a winning MLB roster and, more importantly, I have no idea if the Angelos brothers are committed to this team at the level they need to be. What Elias told us today and this week, is that he feels the team is closer than many fans think. If he feels that way, that should mean that he feels ownership is ready to start making a commitment. It doesn’t make sense otherwise because if they don’t feel this way, you make that Fry for Kevin Smith-type deal, keep kicking the can down the road and continue to wait on the minor leaguers to come up and play at a high level.  You trade Trey Mancini because you don’t want to pay him 8-10 million dollars next year.

If this coming offseason comes and goes with a bunch of dumpster diving-type moves and they don’t start moving in the right direction, I think it becomes time to really start to question Elias and the commitment from the Angelos family.  How this season ends, particularly how the young players develop and the following offseason will tell us all we need to know. 

For me, I am anticipating moves that make us a lot better and I will be disappointed if they don’t happen.

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