Trade deadline season is upon us, and the Orioles, as you have probably noticed, have thus far done jack squat. There is a real need on the team for a corner outfielder, and though the O's are coveting their competitor's players, nothing is happening because those competitors are also coveting players the Orioles have no interest in trading.
MASN's Roch Kubatko wrote before yesterday's game about the situation, indicating that teams have been asking for Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, and Mychal Givens, and the Orioles won't be moving those players. Forget for a second why Givens is apparently untouchable - with those other names, well, duh, of course there won't be any trades when you're asking for those guys. And when considering that the two top Orioles prospects in the minors also seem to be untouchable, well, who is there left to trade, really?
Those top two prospects, Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy, are an interesting case in and of themselves. Harvey has yet to pitch in 2015 due to a small fracture he suffered in spring training and then, when returning from that, some worrisome vague arm troubles. Bundy was on a very light work schedule, making mostly three inning starts as he worked back from his 2013 Tommy John surgery, before being shut down due to having calcification in his shoulder - an uncommon injury.
In the recently unveiled Top 30 prospects list for MLB Pipeline, both Harvey and Bundy still rated among the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, though not as highly as they once did. Harvey rates 70th; Bundy rates 77th. Some parts of the prospect-industrial complex have dropped them out of top lists entirely due to the uncertainty around their injuries. If the Orioles did trade either one, it could prove to be selling low on those guys. It could also be that the O's are optimistic about both and they really believe they're a part of the team's future, too.
So the team's three best young major leaguers are justifiably off the table in any of these rental trades. The team's two top prospects appear to be untouchable as well. When you scratch those names off, you can quickly see why, given the deals that have been consummated so far, the Orioles aren't getting anything done for Justin Upton, Carlos Gomez, or any of those guys.
MLB.com's Top 10 Orioles prospects
|Rank||Player||Age||Position||Acquired (Round/Overall)||Highest Level|
|1||Hunter Harvey||20||RHP||2013 draft (1/22)||Low-A|
|2||Dylan Bundy||22||RHP||2011 draft (1/4)||MLB|
|3||Zach Davies||22||RHP||2011 draft (26/785)||Triple-A|
|4||D.J. Stewart||21||OF||2015 draft (1/25)||Short-A|
|5||Jomar Reyes||18||3B||Int'l amateur signing Jan '14||Low-A|
|6||Christian Walker||24||1B||2012 draft (4/132)||MLB|
|7||Mychal Givens||25||RHP||2009 draft (2/54)||MLB|
|8||Mike Wright||25||RHP||2011 draft (3/94)||MLB|
|9||Chance Sisco||20||C||2013 draft (2/61)||High-A|
|10||Tyler Wilson||25||RHP||2011 draft (10/305)||MLB|
One quick note about the above list - for reasons that I don't understand, MLB.com has not included any players who are exempt from the international amateur signing pool. That's any player 23+ with several years professional experience in another country and so the kinds of Cuban players that Dan Duquette loves to sign, such as Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, and Ariel Miranda are not included.
Alvarez might crack the top 10 if considered; Miranda would potentially be a bottom of the list player. I think Urrutia is what he is. So it's not a perfect representation of the strength or weakness of the Orioles farm, given that it's intentionally excluding a class of player the Orioles seem to intentionally target, but it's close enough.
Stars and sure solid regulars just aren't here
Of the players listed above, the only ones who ever looked like they might be on some kind of star or solid big leaguer trajectory were Harvey and Bundy, and now they've got those injury concerns. You get into the back half of this top 10 and four of the five players are 24-25. Givens, a late convert to pitching, may not have hit his ceiling, but the other three probably are what they are. You throw them into a competition and see if they win.
Wright and Wilson will fight for the same back end of the rotation spot next year, probably. Maybe Wright's future is really taking a stab at being a back-end power reliever. The younger Davies will probably also be fighting for the same rotation spot. Walker could be a low-cost, good-enough first baseman to replace Chris Davis next year, or he could be a guy who's OPSing .714 in Triple-A.
It's good that three of these guys have seen a little MLB time as it means they're not total busts. If you collect fringe pieces in later rounds, you're drafting and developing alright, at least with those guys.
You better duck - the ceilings aren't high
The younger position players could turn into interesting names with time, but they're a long way away. Reyes has looked like a potential breakout player in his first taste of full season ball. Sisco is maintaining his hit tool in High-A, though he's battled some injuries this year and his future as a catcher is in doubt. The just-drafted Stewart is ranked fourth on this list but outlets like ESPN and Baseball Prospectus are not fans of what he has to offer in the professional ranks.
None of these three are blessed with the kind of tools that gets every prospect maven buzzing about them. They will have to develop into something, and they're not the kind that's seen as having monster, star ceilings they might some day reach. And even supposing the Orioles did trade a Sisco or a Reyes, well, heck, then what kind of pipeline do they have to the majors among position players? The cupboard is already bare at the top and if you move one of them, it's pretty bare at the bottom too.
Plus, if you do move those guys, what are they worth? Wright, Sisco, and some lower-tier guy like Tim Berry (LHP - #19) probably aren't getting you a star outfielder like Justin Upton, even as a two month rental. The Orioles won't deal from the top, and probably shouldn't deal from the top. They don't have much of a mid-level they can deal from, and probably shouldn't deal any of that either. Which leaves you with filler, and filler gets you... nothing worth writing home about.
Where does that leave the Orioles? They practically have to do something on the trade market about their corner outfield situation, and yet they also basically can't do anything on the trade market for lack of tradeable surplus pieces. Inertia is not very exciting. Unless Duquette pulls a rabbit out of his hat, it will have to suffice.