There’s been a lot of turnover in the Baltimore Orioles organization recently and I’m not talking about the 40-man, even though we just crossed into September roster expansion time. It’s both surprising and comforting, seeing that real change is occurring at multiple levels of the organization so that GM Mike Elias can reverse the prolonged trend of losing.
Since the end of August, the Orioles have let go of 25 members of the organization. That includes a mix of people from the front office, scouting and minor league coaching staff.
One might have expected these changes back when Elias first took over last October. But he was hired late in the offseason last year and it’s logical to want to evaluate existing employees with one’s own eyes, over a period of time, in order to judge who will conform to the new order and who won’t. Elias has made some final conclusions in this regard, and there could still be more to come.
The season is almost over, so maybe the roster will be the next part of the team to undergo a purge.
After all, Elias has had very little impact on the footprint of the current major league roster. The only free agent major league contract he handed out this past offseason was to Nate Karns, who pitched 5.1 innings at the start of the year and is no longer on the team. Virtually everyone else, he inherited.
There are currently a handful of players on the roster having strong years that may be more valuable in a trade than they are with the O’s moving forward.
Age and cost are big factors to consider, but not the end all be all. Both of those things can also serve to deliver more value in a trade. Most of the players on the O’s roster are making the major league minimum or still in their arbitration years, with veteran Mark Trumbo being the one and only free agent this offseason.
Almost all of the potential trade value this offseason resides in the O’s lineup. The players making up the starting rotation and bullpen are either too young and controllable or not good enough to be considered real trade chips, with the exception being Mychal Givens.
As far as position players, there are four players with obvious value. And they happen to be the four guys with the most at-bats on the team.
Jonathan Villar is an athletic player with a diverse skill set who recently secured his first 20-30 season. He currently has 21 home runs and 33 steals with a bit more than two weeks left in the season. By the way, the home runs are a new career high. In 563 at-bats, he’s slashing .277/.343/.456 with an even .800 OPS and 111 OPS+.
Hanser Alberto has perhaps been the surprise of the season, showing remarkable consistency at the plate that currently puts him seventh in the the batting title race in the American League with a .320 average. Yet he swings at everything and hardly ever walks. His .342 OBP is entirely reliant on his high batting average, but still, there could be a team out there that overvalues his skill set.
Corner infielder and designated hitter Renato Nunez has already set a new career high for at-bats in a season with 495. He has shown steady power at the plate with 29 home runs, yet he only has a .471 SLG and 105 OPS+. At .316, his OBP leaves a lot to be desired, and his batting average is .251. Plus there’s the issue of his glove, which has shown to be below average at multiple positions.
Which leads us right into the next player, whose glove is subpar but only because he’s been forced to spend most of his time playing out of position in the outfield. Without Chris Davis blocking him, Trey Mancini would be more valuable as a first baseman.
Boomer has emerged as a true leader on this young team while putting up strong offensive numbers. There was some concern for him heading into the season because of his uneven performance in 2018, when he slashed .242/.299/.416 with a .715 OPS. But he has rebounded strongly in 2019, batting .277/.349/.513 while leading the team in home runs (30) and OPS (.863).
Yes, he is a fan favorite, but if another team is willing to overpay for him this winter then he shouldn’t be considered untouchable. On the other hand, maybe he would sign a home town discount to be with the team that drafted him. He seems like the kind of down to earth guy who may do that.