If you didn’t get enough of Dan Duquette wheeling and dealing in July, there is the possibility that more trades are made in August. July 31 marked the non-waiver trading deadline and players can still be moved if they pass through waivers. The deadline to watch now is August 31, as players added after that date can’t be included on postseason rosters.
It’s pretty clear that the O’s have committed to a full rebuild. To build upon the work they’ve already done, they should actively shop the three players listed below in order to shed salary and add more, even if marginal, talent to the minor league pipeline. None of these players will be a part of the next good Orioles team and all could potentially help a contending team for the rest of 2018. (Spoiler alert: Chris Davis is not on this list.)
Danny Valencia has had a nice offensive season for the O’s and filled in for injuries nicely. But having signed a minor league contract this past offseason, his deal is up at the end of the 2018 campaign and he doesn’t figure to play a role in the rebuild. Valencia is perhaps the most likely trade candidate this month.
Any team who wants to acquire Valencia will do so because of his track record against left-handed pitching. His career slash line of .314/.371/.497 against southpaws is very impressive. Those splits are even more pronounced this season, as he’s slashing .320/.381/.534. He has put these numbers up despite not playing everyday, showing that he does not need consistent playing time in order to be productive. Valencia is also a very consistent hitter. His overall slash line is .270/.322/.422; all three of those numbers are within five points of his career averages.
Valencia has always struggled with his fielding and that has been the case again this season. His UZR is negative at every position he’s played this season according to Fangraphs. Baseball Reference rates his defensive WAR to -1. He also doesn’t perform very well against right-handed pitching; his OPS against them this season is .617.
Despite those detriments, a team who is interested in Valencia would want him for one reason: to be a bench bat who makes spot starts against lefties and can pinch hit. If any executives are reading this, note that Valencia has fared very well against some top lefties who will pitch in the postseason: 1.133 OPS against Dallas Keuchel, 1.387 against David Price, 1.000 against Clayton Kershaw. While he could be quite useful to a contending team, he would probably only net the O’s a low-level prospect.
Trumbo will be more difficult to trade. First of all, there is his salary. He is playing in the second year of a three year, $37.5M contract he signed prior to the 2017 season. He will make $11M next year and is then owed deferred payments of $1.5M for the three seasons after his contract expires. That’s a lot for a team to take on for Mark Trumbo.
Which brings up the second reason he’ll be difficult to trade: he hasn’t performed well lately. After injuries caused a late start to the season, he did hit six home runs in June and four in July. But his OPS in those months were only .741 and .701. That adds up to a very ordinary slash line of .252/.311/.427 on the season. Unlike Valencia, his splits aren’t extreme so he isn’t a platoon candidate. While struggling offensively, he does not redeem himself with the glove. He has accumulated a -1.1 defensive WAR this season and does not pass the “eye test” when played in right field. That’s unfortunate for him, because his OPS is over 100 points higher while playing in the field as opposed to being a designated hitter.
Despite his flaws, Trumbo does have impressive power that can carry a club for stretches at a time. Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Seattle are vying for a postseason berth and are in the bottom half of the league in home runs hit. It is possible that one of those teams could want to increase their power and take a chance on Trumbo. The O’s would surely let him go for almost nothing, simply to trim payroll and make room in next year’s outfield for a younger player.
The idea of acquiring Cashner would not excite fans of a contending team. But he’s a veteran who knows how to pitch. Let’s think back to happier days. On August 26, 2012, the Orioles acquired Joe Saunders, who had pitched to an ERA of 4.19 to that point in the season. While Saunders wasn’t a flashy acquisition, his veteran presence helped stabilize the O’s rotation and he picked up the win in the Wild Card Game. (Pausing to go watch highlights from that game. You should too.)
Cashner’s ERA before last evening’s shelling was 4.33, but he was going in the right direction. He entered the month of June with an ERA of over five and it has steadily fallen prior to last night. In ten starts since the beginning of June, six of them have been “quality.” In one of those other starts, he threw four scoreless innings before a lengthy rain delay.
An argument against trading Cashner is his salary and contract. Even though 2019 will be a rebuilding year in Baltimore, somebody needs to start every fifth day. Cashner is owed $8M next season and has a $10M vesting option for 2020. That is solid value for a proven veteran starting pitcher. With that said, he should be traded if any prospect is offered.