One year ago this week, the Orioles finally acquiesced. As the 2018 All-Star break wound down, the rumors ceased and Manny Machado was shipped out of town to Los Angeles. Almost the instant the face of the franchise was gone, in his place came a word long avoided by the
One year ago this week, the Orioles finally acquiesced. As the 2018 All-Star break wound down, the rumors ceased and Manny Machado was shipped out of town to Los Angeles. Almost the instant the face of the franchise was gone, in his place came a word long avoided by the organization: rebuild.
Where does Baltimore stand now, a year later? Consider that before the likes of Machado, Zack Britton and Jonathan Schoop were gone, the Orioles had just two prospects within MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect rankings. Now, that number has doubled -- and it does not include No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman. Likewise, half of the Orioles' Top 30 Prospects were not with the organization at the beginning of last season.
The first steps have been taken, but the rebuild is still very much a work in progress. It was started at last year’s Deadline, and the club will look to take the next steps with this year’s July 31 Deadline three weeks away.
Last year, the Orioles were second to none in terms of active sellers at the Deadline. But this year, with a new regime under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and a roster chock-full of youngsters and journeymen alike, that superlative may be harder to come by.
Current status: Seller
The question is not if the Orioles will be sellers this upcoming Deadline, but rather how much they’ll be able to sell.
Spiraling closer and closer towards a second consecutive top Draft pick, Baltimore has little incentive to acquire Major League talent at this year’s Deadline. The O's focus will be to sell off what Major League-level assets they have and, in turn, receive additional building blocks via prospects and international signing slots and/or money for the ongoing rebuild.
So, yes, the Orioles may be buyers in one respect. Baltimore’s splash on international signing day July 3 was by far the biggest in the organization’s history, when 27 international free agents were inked deals. That was just the first step in an overhaul and vitalization of the O's international scouting department, so the acquisition of international slots and/or money may very well be an ask in return for any assets they are looking to sell. In any event, prospects, prospects and more prospects will assuredly be the desired return in any trade made.
What they are seeking
Even with the one-year anniversary of the rebuild’s inception looming, the Orioles still find their farm system rated, at best, in the middle of the pack by most rankings. At the lower levels, pitching is the strong suit, headlined by Top 100 Prospects Grayson Rodriguez (No. 53) and DL Hall (No. 66) -- both of whom tossed 1-2-3 innings at the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. While options when it comes to promising positional players at the lower levels are incredibly thin, the opposite is true for the upper levels, thanks in part to Top 100 Prospects Ryan Mountcastle (No. 55) and Yusniel Diaz (No. 90).
While the Orioles most likely don’t have enough high-end trade assets to land a prospect like Diaz -- who came over in the Machado deal last year -- they'll be looking for any talent that will further bolster their farm system. Elias and his analytic-focused understudies have made clear their focus is always to find and bring in the best talent available in any given situation. But don’t be surprised if lower-level batting and upper-level pitching are prioritized and find their way to Baltimore by the end of the month.
What they have to offer
Even with the worst team ERA in the big leagues (5.65), the Orioles’ trade candidates come almost exclusively within its pitching staff. Andrew Cashner and his 3.83 ERA (1.41 since the start of June) is as close to a blue-chip trade candidate as they come in Baltimore. The veteran on an expiring contract could very well be on the move.
Another possible, but less likely, trade candidate is starter Dylan Bundy -- who was rumored but ultimately not traded at last year’s Deadline. Mychal Givens, whose success before 2019 might make him an attractive trade target for contending bullpens, could be on the move, too, while someone like veteran lefty Richard Bleier is more likely to stay put.
Trey Mancini is the most attractive bat, but there is no indication that the 27-year-old with three years of team control past 2019 is being actively shopped. That may change, but Jonathan Villar -- acquired in the Schoop deal last Deadline -- might be the top positional trade chip with his seven years of big league experience and speed on the basepaths.
It’s no secret that almost every team in playoff contention would love to add another arm to its rotation. The Red Sox have recently made it known they are in the market for one, and the Yankees have been involved in almost every rumor for a starter.
Albeit now under a new regime, the Orioles showed last year via the Britton deal that they can stomach a trade within the division. Both the Red Sox and Yankees are two teams looking to arm up, and New York is a bit richer in the prospects department.
In any event, the Orioles of last year made clear they are ready fully commit to a rebuild, entertaining all offers until finding a return they deem best. The O's of this year, too, seem on the same page. It’s just a matter of how many calls find their way to Elias.