05 July 2018

How The Orioles Should Approach Trade Season

Somehow, the Orioles are 24-61. They clearly have trades to make, and there should be a lot of them. The non-waiver trade deadline is coming up at the end of July, and those in charge (in whatever order) should be doing everything possible to improve the future prospects of the club.

Here are things they should do before the deadline:

1. Trade expiring players. That includes Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones, Brad Brach, and Danny Valencia. This step is really the bare minimum. For all of these players, there is at least a tiny bit of value. As a platoon bat with a questionable glove, Valencia probably has the least value. That also depends how Britton performs in his next handful of starts. Perhaps the Orioles are focusing on a Machado trade, and that'll be the first domino to fall. Regardless, holding on to any of these players through the end of the year would be rather pointless. Get the best possible return and move on.

2. Be open to trading anyone. Look at the Orioles roster. Who would you consider untouchable in a trade? Dylan Bundy? Kevin Gausman? Trey Mancini? Chance Sisco? Tanner Scott or Miguel Castro? The options are limited. Sisco, Scott, and Castro are all 23, so it's easy to sell them as part of a rebuilding club. Perhaps Mancini is, too, since he's 26 and under team control through 2022 (though the Orioles need to get him away from the outfield).

However, Bundy and Gausman are where things start to get interesting. Jonathan Schoop was much more interesting before this season started. Of the trade chips in the first step, Machado is the only real significant player to deal. Both of these things are true: The Orioles need more decent, young-ish starters like Bundy and Gausman, but they've limited the ways in which to attract them. That won't be by spending big internationally. And it won't be by spending for an ace in free agency (which isn't the worst plan). But that means the only two realistic ways are to select one in the MLB draft, or to trade for one. While the O's have some intriguing talent in the low levels of the minors, there isn't anyone who seems to have ace potential. Making a bunch of Rule 5 draft picks every year isn't going to change that.

Simply put: The Orioles need more high-end prospects. In the short term, it won't help to get rid of Gausman or Bundy, or both. But in the short term, the Orioles are also going to be bad. Plus, Gausman is scheduled to be a free agent in 2021, and Bundy is about to get more expensive as he enters the first of his three arbitration seasons. That doesn't mean the Orioles can't afford them, of course, but it's still a part of the larger picture.

Keeping those two guys around wouldn't be the worst idea, but that would also limit the Orioles' ability to maximize the trade value of its roster and embark on a full rebuilding effort.

3. Get rid of the 1B/DH glut. For now, Chris Davis isn't going anywhere. The Orioles aren't going to remove him from the roster while he has four more seasons on his contract after this one. And to be fair, almost no other team would do that, either. That means Davis will likely be this team's main option at first base through next season. But no matter what, the Orioles need to do whatever is possible to trade Mark Trumbo and give Mancini the chance to get regular work at DH and split time at first base.

Trumbo has one more year left on his contract after 2018, for $13.5 million (with some of it deferred). He also has a limited no-trade clause and can block a deal to seven clubs each season. It won't be easy to move him, but thankfully he is sporting a 119 wRC+ at the moment and is continuing his trend of hitting much better when he's not DHing. Some team could use him at first base, and it's possible he'd be a shrewd addition. The O's would almost certainly have to include some money in a deal, which they should. Maybe some of the cost savings from Colby Rasmus walking away could be used towards that.

There's no getting rid of Davis, but moving Trumbo (and Valencia) would help make room on the roster for Cedric Mullins (131 wRC+ in Norfolk) and DJ Stewart (124 wRC+ in Norfolk), who could be promoted to Baltimore soon. If Jones is dealt, Mullins should be the regular center fielder, and Stewart could see work in one of the corner outfield spots.


The Orioles' farm system does seem to be improving, but it needs more top-level talent. It's unlikely they can get that by trading Machado and just hoping everything else works out. The Orioles should be willing to put nearly everyone on the table and get serious about making things better for the future.


Pip said...

Alex Verdugo is-I think-an outfielder,and it seems we have lots of OF prospects already ( though places on the big club are being blocked by non-outfielders, ironically) Should the Orioles seek specific position players? Or just take the best prospects available?

Unknown said...

Machado has to go to the Dodgers, they have by far the best farm system of all the teams interested in Manny...I'll take Verdugo and two pitching prospects.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Best prospects available

Unknown said...

Why are you assuming Chirs Davis has to stay through next season? I don't get that concept. The money paid to him is a sunk cost at this point. It's one thing to owe a player 90m over the next four seasons....but its worse to owe a player 90m who is making your ball club worse. Cut Davis and find someone else in the system who can bat above .200. The money is gone either way, so use the spot for at least some level of production.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I'm assuming it because that's what I think the team will do.

Matt Bennett said...

What is with this obsession with Trey Mancini and the delusion that he can hit enough to play DH or 1B???

.276/.324/.442 post all-star break in 2017.
atrocious in 2018 (-1.3 WAR)
His 2017 as a whole can just be described up as an acceptable starting player, and that was ballooned by a .352 BABIP.
Is this what you want out of one of your top power positions?

Mancini is a fringe major league baseball player. Not enough bat for a power position. Terrible defense to go along with a meh bat. Probably perfect for pinch hitting duties in the national league.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

If you want to start slicing up Mancini's career, you can definitely make him look better/worse than he probably is. Overall, he has a wRC+ of 108, and most of that has come with him playing out of position.

I don't think there's an obsession with Mancini. Fans want him out of the outfield, as they should. Anyway, the average 1B in the majors has a wRC+ of 107. The average DH has a 110 wRC+. It's not out of the question to think he could do that.

Pip said...

Matt, I do not know whether you or Jon uses “Camden Depot” as a Twitter handle, or if it is someone else, but that account posted today that someone in the FO had said that they are specifically interested in “filling positions of need“ instead of “best player available“. I have to say that as soon as I read your comment about the best choice being getting the best player available I instantly thought the Orioles would do the exact opposite.
And LO! It is so!
I had to laugh.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I tweet from my own handle, but is that what Jon actually said? From what I've read so far, the Orioles are interested in teams' top prospects regardless of position (including outfielders, which is one of their only relatively well-stocked positions).

Then again, who knows exactly what this crazy team will do?

Jon Shepherd said...

Teams dont tend to refer to themselves in third person.


Pip said...

Oh, I must’ve misunderstood the source of the comment. I think my perception is understandable however. It’s still pretty funny