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Wednesday Bird Droppings: Are the Rays providing a glimpse at the Orioles future?

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In O’s news: the minor league system continues to improve and one of the team’s new coaches gets a rave review

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Good morning Birdland,

While the San Diego Padres have been receiving deserved plaudits for their flurry of moves this week, that hasn’t completely overshadowed the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays decided to trade away one of their best players just months after falling two games short of a World Series title.

Blake Snell is 28 years old. He won the AL Cy Young award in 2018 and just wrapped up a solid season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA, 131 ERA+ and struck out 63 batters over 50 innings pitched. And it’s not like he’s expensive either. The southpaw isn’t due to hit free agency until after the 2023 season. Over the next three years he will make $11.1 million, $13.1 million and $16.6 million, respectively, in what could be the prime of his career. That’s well below market value for a pitcher of his quality.

Of course, the trade of Snell shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. This is how the Rays do business. They sign talented players to affordable contracts when they are young (like they did with Snell prior to 2019), and then later deal them for prospects to the highest bidder. The result is a farm system that always seems to be brimming with a talent and a major league squad that oscillates between contending and cellar-dwelling.

The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli examined the Rays approach and how the Orioles may attempt to replicate it in an article posted on Tuesday. Meoli notes that O’s general manager Mike Elias has referenced the Rays multiple times when discussing how he would like to build an organization.

How would you feel if the Orioles did things like the Rays?

I can only speak for myself, but I’m torn. On one hand, there are going to be deals that come up that you cannot refuse. Remember when the Rays sent Chris Archer to the Pirates for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz? That’s a move that needs to be made. But trading away a guy like Snell when your team just proved they are capable of reaching the World Series? That doesn’t sit right, no matter how good some of the prospects may seem.

But the Orioles have a few more steps to reach before this is even a realistic comparison. Elias is still working on the “pipeline” that he has spoken about so often. Once that is up and pumping we will see how the club operates with a wide open competitive window.

Links & Notes

5 farm systems that improved most in ‘20 | MLB.com
Both the Rays and the Orioles make it onto this list. Tampa now has seven players in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, while the O’s have five. It would be kind of fun if this leads to the two teams battling for the AL East crown in a couple of years rather than the typical Red Sox/Yankees fights.

Flaherty on Mansolino: “He’ll be good, really good” | School of Roch
Ryan Flaherty is omnipresent. Always there, waiting. Sure, he may have a job in San Diego right now, but why does it feel like the guy is gonna make his way back to Baltimore some day.

New Year’s resolutions for the Orioles | MASN All Access Podcast (YouTube)
Let’s be honest, even if you are working this week, you aren’t REALLY working this week. This will give you something to listen/watch while you scroll through spreadsheets.

What the Snell trade means for an O’s team looking to emulate Rays | The Baltimore Sun
Who knows if the Orioles really will replicate the Rays, but it will be neat to have a boatload of major league players that other clubs are interested in one day.

Orioles birthday

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Jim Hoey turns 38 today. The relief pitcher compiled a 8.13 ERA over 35 games with the O’s between 2006-07, but is perhaps remembered best as part of the trade package sent to the Twins in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Happy 53rd birthday to Archie Corbin. The right-handed pitcher appeared in 18 games with the 1996 Birds, allowing just seven runs over 27.1 innings.

Finally, it is the 76th birthday of Jose Morales. The first baseman spent 12 seasons in the big leagues, but only 41 games with the Orioles, split between the 1981 and ‘82 seasons.

Orioles history

Not much has happened in Orioles history on this day, according to Baseball Reference. So, here are some interesting happenings that have occurred outside of Birdland, based on the always-reliable Wikipedia.

1853 - The United States buys land from Mexico to make way for a railroad through what is current-day New Mexico and Arizona.

1896 - Ernie McLea scores the first hat trick in Stanley Cup history, lifting the Montreal Victorias over the Winnipeg Victorias 6-5.

1935 - Sanford “Sandy” Braun is born in Brooklyn, New York. When he was nine years old the future Hall-of-Fame pitcher would take the last name of his step-father, Koufax.