If there’s one thing to be said about the activity heading into the day of this year’s trade deadline, it’s that not much was happening until last night. No one can accuse the Orioles of doing nothing, because they already traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox in exchange for a couple of 17-year-old Venezuelan prospects almost two weeks ago. With Cashner sitting on a 6.11 ERA through his first three Boston starts, they might wish they had those teenagers back.
As for other teams, it says a lot about what has happened so far that the two biggest buying trades, the deals for Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, were made by the Mets and Reds, respectively, each of whom entered play on Tuesday at least five games below .500, with no serious chance of getting anywhere in 2019.
This year’s trade deadline is more of a pressure point for teams because there is no more August waiver trade period to potentially allow teams to plug gaps even after the first deadline. Today at 4pm Eastern is it.
That hasn’t translated to action for most of the contending teams yet, other than the three-team swap the Indians pulled off last night. Maybe the hard deadline will inspire a flurry of last-day activity that hasn’t been seen up to this point, in a similar way to how there are and always will be those students who need the ticking clock towards the due date to really get the big paper or presentation done.
What do you think will happen today? What do you think should happen, with the Orioles and other teams? We’ll be trying to keep tabs on all the deadline day rumors in the comments below.
A quick roundup of the Orioles whose combination of performance, team control remaining, and potential has sent them spinning through the rumor mill:
The general tone from O’s reporters seems to be that Villar is one of two Orioles players most likely to get dealt at this deadline. That appears to be more out of a general sense that some contending team somewhere could use a middle infielder who’s turning in solid, if not star-level performance at the plate this season, with speed (and sometimes bad decisions) to go with the nice hitting, and has another year of team control for next year as well.
After Tuesday’s game, Villar is batting .263/.325/.418. That’s just about a league-average hitter, perhaps a little below it, which a team can live with from a second baseman or shortstop, especially if their current middle infield is more of a problem than a solution. He’s been worth 1.7 bWAR this season and already showed after being traded last year that he’s capable of going on a tear and adding a win to a team in the final two months.
There have not been many concrete rumors about Villar so far. The biggest one from Monday involved MASN’s Roch Kubatko saying that the O’s and Cubs had discussed Villar but that there had not been a fit between the two cubs. This doesn’t mean there have been no talks. So far, the Mike Elias front office seems to have a lot more of a “loose lips sink ships” attitude than Duquette and crew did. Whatever is going on, we just probably don’t know it.
There aren’t many teams out there, if any, whose bullpens are so good that they couldn’t use another reliever for late innings down the stretch and in the postseason. The Cubs 2016 trade for Aroldis Chapman can get a fan of a bad team salivating over the idea of getting their own Gleyber Torres for a reliever, but the reality is those kinds of two month rentals aren’t continuing to fetch those kinds of returns.
Givens is not a rental reliever. A team would control his rights for this year, next year, and the year after that, if they wished to do so. If they thought they were getting the Givens who debuted in MLB in 2015 and posted a 0.867 WHIP over his first 22 games, they would surely value that highly. The fact that Givens is not a “proven closer” could be a point in his favor in some ways, as it means his arbitration salaries for the next two years will not be inflated by a “he’s got saves!” premium. Givens is making $2.15 million this season.
Unfortunately for the Orioles trying to extract trade value, Givens struggled in 2018 and those struggles have continued into 2019. Although Givens, with 57 strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched, is striking out batters at a higher rate than ever, his walk rate is up and his home run rate has jumped substantially. July is his best month yet, despite his faltering against the Angels, so perhaps a team will buy that improvement.
About a week ago, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Indians, Braves, and Dodgers have some interest in Givens. Kubatko included the Nationals and Phillies over the All-Star break. The Braves may have addressed their desire for a reliever by trading for Rangers reliever Chris Martin. That two month rental netted Texas 21-year-old lefty Kolby Allard, the Braves first round pick in 2015 who was a top 100 prospect in the game from 2016-18.
The idea of the Orioles trading Mancini inspires conflicting emotions, as our Nick Cicere wrote yesterday. He’s become the face of the team during this rebuilding phase, which doesn’t mean that he can’t or shouldn’t be traded, just that it would be more complicated to process than anyone could have guessed even two years ago when Mancini was playing his way to a third place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Mancini is the best hitter on the Orioles. His .282/.344/.534 batting line in 101 games is not going to win him any MVP awards any time soon, but it’s nothing to laugh at. A contender whose first base or designated hitter positions are currently clunkers could use that bat, and if they have right field problems they could even think about putting him out there, too.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted on Tuesday that teams interested in Mancini include the Astros, Rangers, and Rays. Of this trio, only the Rangers have had bad hitting out of the first base spot this year. If the Orioles think this is the best that Mancini will ever be, they must deal him for the best package they can get. If they know that the next good Orioles team will get at most a year of Mancini on it, they don’t “have” to keep him just for that.
I’ll be incredibly surprised if Mancini is in another organization by the time the sun sets tonight. I’ve been wrong before, though, and will be wrong again.
Even mentioning Bundy’s name is more of an aspirational thing than anything based in reality. He seemed in the spring like he might be a trade candidate because, like Givens, he will be a free agent after the 2021 season. The Orioles will probably not be contending by 2021. Therefore, anyone in that group should be on the block.
Bundy’s performance hasn’t done much to build up his trade value, though. New Elias-era analytics haven’t helped him any from last year, when he posted a 5.45 ERA and 5.17 FIP and led MLB in home runs allowed. So far in 2019, Bundy has a 5.24 ERA and 5.35 FIP. He is still giving up a lot of homers.
Maybe some team out there would still remember Bundy’s prospect hype and think, we’re the ones who can unlock his real potential when those idiot Orioles failed to do so. Not every traded Orioles pitcher turns into Cubs-vintage Jake Arrieta.
If two months of Cashner was worth a couple of lottery tickets, maybe two years and two months of the 26-year-old Bundy is worth something to somebody. It would just be worth more if he was pitching better.
I’m not completely convinced that the reporters mentioning Alberto as even a longshot trade chip aren’t just having fun at our expense. Kubatko posed the question about Alberto as a trade piece a couple of weeks ago and Morosi described him on Sunday as the “possibly the most under-the-radar trade candidate” out there.
Alberto changed organizations four times from November to March. Those guys don’t usually scream trade value. He entered this season with a career .189/.210/.231 batting line in 89 games with the Rangers. His defensive value is limited. He does not draw many walks and he does not hit for power.
Despite these things, Alberto is batting .311/.329/.405 on the season. He is abusing lefty pitchers to the tune of a .401/.410/.526 batting line. This is almost unbelievable. The biggest reason I don’t believe Alberto will be traded is that I don’t believe some contending team’s GM out there will look at that performance and think, “He’s going to keep doing that for long enough for me to trade something for him.” For the most part, guys don’t suddenly become something new when they’re 26.
It only takes one call or text for everything to shift. As the deadline approaches, buying teams could realize they need to up their offers, or selling teams like the Orioles could realize they’re going to have to lower their asking prices. Once somebody blinks, which can happen as late as the minutes leading up to the 4pm deadline, then there can be a deal.
Will Elias take things down to the last hour or even the last minutes like Duquette did last year? Will he end up not doing much at all after determining his players don’t have the value to other teams that they have to the O’s? We’ll know in a few hours.