Last July was a busy season for Orioles trades, with two big deals for Manny Machado and Zack Britton early in the month and trades for Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop in the final minutes before the 4pm July 31 deadline. This time around, the deadline has come and gone and the Orioles did not swing any deals for their MLB players on the final day.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported that the two players who the Orioles were shopping the most over the course of the day were Jonathan Villar and Mychal Givens, but the team was not able to close any deals. Or at least, not any MLB deals. He did say that there’s a pending trade involving a minor league player that has not yet been announced.
The Orioles had already traded their only significant pending free agent, Andrew Cashner, to the Red Sox earlier in the month, so there wasn’t any urgency to move those players, or any of the others whose names were bandied about with varying levels of reliability over the last couple of weeks: Trey Mancini, Renato Nunez, Dylan Bundy, Hanser Alberto.
It’s safe to say that Givens, who is under team control through the 2021 season, was not at the peak of his value after how he has performed so far this year. With a robust market for relievers - the Braves and Nationals acquired three each, to say nothing of players who went elsewhere - teams could be choosy about who they wanted to get and what they wanted to give up.
GM Mike Elias clearly felt that Givens could have more value down the road than he has right now. That he wasn’t traded was a bit of a surprise, given that two hours before the deadline, the rumor was that the “industry expectation” was that the O’s would trade their back-of-the-bullpen reliever. The thing about baseball rumors is that sometimes reporters talk to people who don’t actually have a handle on what is going on, but think that they do.
Villar has one more season remaining after this before becoming a free agent, so while dealing him was a bit more of a pressing concern, there’s still time to move him later if he has more value later.
The prospect bonanza simply did not materialize anywhere. The Orioles farm system has been rocketing up the rankings from places like Baseball America and Fangraphs thanks to the performance of some players this season, plus having gotten Adley Rutschman in the draft, but it did not get any further bolstering from prospects today.
There were a number of deals around the league that went down to the wire, with news breaking only after the deadline had passed of several deals. The biggest of these sent Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks to the Astros in exchange for rookie pitcher Corbin Martin, Double-A pitcher J.B. Bukauskas, slugging prospect Seth Beer, and 25-year-old minor league infielder Josh Rojas. Greinke’s contract runs through 2021.
After all of the wondering and maybe some worrying, the Orioles we’ve been watching are going to be the Orioles we’ll be watching for the rest of the season. Trades will not be opening up space for young players to come up and show what they’ve got. The O’s will just have to decide who is ready and when, and clear playing time and a roster spot for them once that happens.
In the meantime, the quest for the #1 pick, or possibly the #2 pick, awaits. Unlike the Orioles, their competition for that #1 pick, the Tigers, did swing two deals to send away players. They dealt Nicholas Castellanos to the Cubs and closer Shane Greene to the Braves. The Tigers are three games worse than the Orioles right now. It’s going to be hard work to be worse than them. Maybe it’s best for our sanity if the O’s aren’t worse than the Tigers. The #2 pick should still afford the O’s the opportunity to get a great player.