It’s trade deadline season, marking the time on the MLB calendar where all rational ideas and projections go out the window and into the proverbial recycle bin. Hot takes are aplenty, and creative “wanna-be GMs” (I’m guilty!) are on the top of their games behind Twitter handles and online message boards.
But when it all boils down, one of two things will happen. The Orioles will either make a move to better position themselves in the 2016 race and beyond, or they’ll stay quiet, save prospects and keep chugging along at their torrid pace.
It isn’t rocket science, but lately the deadline feels extremely unpredictable.
Perhaps it’s the lack of top-tier talent floating around rumor mills. On the other hand, maybe the O’s, in their current state, don’t really need a colossal season-shifting trade to be World Series contenders.
Either way, it’s probably best to stay out of market discussions and stick to the storylines here at home — most importantly, down on the farm.
One of the most compelling situations can be found spotlighted in Facebook threads across Orioles nation: that of the untouchable prospects. Because the depth of the organization is far from dazzling, some insist that the team is in a “stand pat” mode on those prospects with above-average potential.
Two names that regularly headline these talks: Tanner Scott and Trey Mancini.
The conundrum of dealing Scott is a difficult one, especially due to all the hype and excitement surrounding the arm on his right shoulder. Fireball-hurling relievers seem to be an increasing part of the major league climate, but do they really provide the best option for late-inning relief?
With velocity-hyped prospects, often times issues with command overshadow natural skill and ability. Baseball is a game won on the mound with pure strike-throwers. And with Scott, clean innings are far from a guarantee.
One could argue that dealing him in the 2016 trade cycle makes for an excellent situation for the Orioles, especially when glancing over Scott's career numbers.
His 4.75 career ERA (115 innings) in the minors doesn’t seem to be a devastating trend, but the walk numbers speak a different story. From the beginning of his days as a prospect, free passes have been the red flag. The Orioles had hopes that his strike zone issues could be quickly corrected, but that hasn’t exactly been the case.
Scott had a 4.7 BB/9 ratio in 2015, far better than this year’s 7.7 number. Yes, that’s almost eight walks per nine innings. And while the lefty might’ve just turned 21, there are no signs of improvement in his overall command.
Of course, the counter argument to that would be the fact that trading now, before potentially fixing the command issues, isn't maximizing Scott's trade value. And while there is validity in that process of thought, it's not entirely relevant to the big picture. Ultimately, Scott may be at the peak of his career. His potential upside might hint otherwise, but playing around with decent present-day trade value is risky.
The case of Mancini falls into a different category. If the Dan Duquette has a "win now" philosophy, it's evident that players of his type (throw in Chance Sisco, as well) will be the first discussed in potential deals.
If you follow the philosophy of looking toward the future and stocking prospects, keeping players like Mancini around make a whole lot of sense. They're primed to keep advancing and have shown plenty of promise to follow a fast track to the major league. Statistically, it's a sound theory.
But one look at the Orioles current roster provides a drastic shift to the story. As has been well documented, the O's as a whole are a one-trick pony. Mancini fits perfectly into the mold of the present-day Orioles hitter - a type of prospect that plenty of teams around the league are searching for.
With Mancini's lack of defensive versatility, why not deal him - especially when his market value is through the roof?
At the end of the day, it's a clear-cut situation. It's obvious that the minor-league system is completely depleted, nearly reliant on the 2016 Draft class to perform in order to keep the system from being ranked last in the MLB. But Duquette knows a Baltimore trip to the World Series is closer than it's been in decades.
These Orioles are good. If you've watched even a handful of innings this year, you know Buck Showalter's Birds are a real contender.
And if a trip to the big stage in October costs an "untouchable" or two, it might just be worth it.