As I explained in my last piece on our beloved Orioles, they’re not contenders, and likely won’t be a playoff team. Still, come this weird season’s trade deadline on August 31, they are in position to make a postseason push. Will GM Mike Elias stick to the plan to rebuild that he entered the year with, or will he throw the Orioles into the MLB’s ring of buyers this year?
Only time will tell, but for now I’ll give my trade deadline predictions as to the direction Baltimore will head.
Buyers or Sellers?
I won’t waste any time — the Orioles will be sellers. Elias has shown a commitment to player development by not rushing prospects to the bigs despite a strong start, and his approach won’t waver now. While I wouldn’t be surprised if the O’s made a deal for a cheap arm (a prediction I’ll explain further below), they won’t be trading massive chips in win-now moves.
Trade 1: Mychal Givens to the Twins
Minnesota is enjoying an incredible start to their season and will want to solidify the back-end of their bullpen for postseason ball. For me, Givens is as good as gone, assuming the Orioles are able to get a decent return for him. Trading with a mid-market team like the Twins should help Baltimore receive a better prospect, and I think they could get a Top-10 player in Minnesota’s system. One or two other low-level prospects may come along too, but there’ll be one crowned jewel off the deal.
Trade 2: Alex Cobb to the Braves
While Cobb has enjoyed a triumphant return to form this year, it appears a great deal of that success is luck. He has actually been hit quite hard, and his expected ERA is much higher than the number truly shows. Add in his massive contract, and he may be more difficult to trade than many think. Still, with reports surfacing that Baltimore would smartly eat some of that salary to improve their return, I expect they’ll get something done.
Atlanta has a deep farm system and a need for pitching, so they should be eager to make a deal. In this trade, O’s fans shouldn’t expect too much – perhaps one Top-30 prospect along with two Top-50 players.
Trade 3: Kevin Gausman (or similar) to the… Orioles
In this scenario, Gausman is more of a fun placeholder for the type of pitcher Baltimore could go after. In fact, bringing him back to OPACY might be an even more expensive move than what Elias hopes to make. Regardless, after trading Cobb, the Orioles will need to replace his innings and consistency in some fashion. Yes, prospects like Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann could be important in providing that, but they’re not yet reliable. Just because the Orioles are sellers doesn’t mean they won’t stay in playoff contention – if you can add someone like Gausman to replace Cobb and let the youngsters find themselves at the back-end of the rotation, maybe you can still qualify. And if this new veteran pitcher is acquired for a mid-level prospect on whom Baltimore isn’t too high, I think it’s a low-risk move that’s worth the shot.