There are 15 days to go until MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline. Except for the All-Star Game, there will be no big league baseball action for the next four days. Without needing to do any day-to-day maintenance just to field warm bodies on a team 39.5 games out of first place, it’s a chance for the Orioles to really focus on the trade market for their in demand players and maybe even get some deals done.
Have we seen the last game as an Oriole for players like Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Adam Jones? There will still be two more weeks to make trades after today, but the start of the second half of the season wouldn’t be a bad time for the O’s to start heading in their new direction and for any potential trade partners to shake things up, too.
The last two weeks have been a constant barrage of occasionally contradictory trade rumors. Here is where things appear to stand as the pause for the All-Star break is underway.
Just yesterday, Jon Heyman wrote that the chase was down to five finalists. Other reporters, including ESPN’s Buster Olney and The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina, narrow it down further to three: Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers. Encina also describes the Braves as “in the mix” with the O’s having ongoing dialogue with these four teams.
Machado was removed from Sunday afternoon’s first half finale following a rain delay. This briefly raised some eyebrows about whether a deal was imminent, which it clearly was not. However, Buck Showalter acknowledged after the game, without directly admitting it, that the trade mill was why that was done:
Buck on removing Machado after rain delay: "A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game. We know that. You all know. You're smart. I think you know what's going on." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) July 15, 2018
The Phillies are unique among the known suitors because there has been reporting about a number of specific prospect names that are still under consideration. NBC Sports Philly’s Jim Salisbury reported on Friday about five prospects of interest to the O’s, not including Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who apparently remains off the table.
Earlier in the week, the Yankees were said to have made a “strong” offer; however, Encina writes that offer’s strength “appears to have been exaggerated.” Indeed, the New York Post’s George A. King III reported that the Yankees are unwilling to part with any of their top 10 prospects for Machado. Little surprise their name has dropped off the favorites list.
Now that the All-Star break is here, the O’s might as well wait until after the game to trade Machado. If they didn’t trade him a week ago because they wanted him to be an Orioles All-Star, that was a poor decision, but it seems like they have been waiting for better deals to present themselves. MASN’s Roch Kubatko is among the reporters suggesting that a trade before the break is over could happen.
When Britton walked three batters in his first game off the disabled list a month ago, with significantly diminished velocity, the idea of his ever having trade value seemed farfetched. After shaking off the rust, with seven straight scoreless appearances and a fastball closer to his peak success, perhaps he is building up some value again.
Reported interest in the last week has come from the Cubs (via 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine), the Astros (Ken Rosenthal), the Phillies (Salisbury), and the Red Sox (Heyman). The Phillies have some interest in a Machdo-Britton blockbuster, but Rosenthal’s report on the Astros interest indicated that the O’s believe they could get a greater return separately because there are some different suitors for Britton.
Jones is now a 10+ year MLB veteran with 5+ years with his current team, which gives him a blanket no-trade clause. Kubatko reported on Saturday that the Orioles have not yet approached Jones about potentially waiving those rights.
It’s easy to say from the outside, but I would sure want to get away from a 28-69 team for any playoff team if I had the chance. Jones has batted .275/.299/.423 for the season, which is not going to stand out much in the trade market. Still, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported on Saturday on interest from the Indians.
With Indians center fielders batting a combined .219/.267/.297, the possible need there is obvious. The Indians do not have much of a division race on their hands, leading the Twins by 7.5 games at the break. The Twins are six games below .500.
Other players of interest
Morosi’s report about the Indians and Jones also included that the Indians are interested in getting controllable relief pitching, with Mychal Givens catching their eye in that group. Givens will not be a free agent until after the 2021 season. Givens is having a bit of a tough year with a 1.386 WHIP to date, spiked by a higher walk rate than last season. The pessimist would say trade him now before his value falls farther.
That same pessimist wants the Orioles to trade anything that isn’t nailed down because they’re probably not going to be any good next year, either. This effort is complicated by most Orioles who aren’t named Machado having bad seasons. Part of why they’re in last place is performance below expectations from the likes of Brad Brach and Jonathan Schoop, who might otherwise have been trade chips in this scenario.
Any guesses on when/where the big Orioles trades happen? Prospects you think the Orioles should/will target? If you want to lock in your guesses so you can brag about how much you know after the trades are made, let us know what you think in the comments below.