The Orioles’ trade-deadline sell-off continued full steam ahead on Sunday, with the club sending former closer Mychal Givens to the Colorado Rockies for prospects Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra and a player to be named later. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported the Givens deal and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand first reported the return package. It was the Birds’ second deal of the day after trading lefty Tommy Milone to Atlanta for two PTBNLs.
The 30-year-old Givens is in the midst of a career-best season out of the Orioles’ bullpen, albeit in an exceedingly small sample size. In 13 innings over 12 appearances, he’s allowed just two earned runs (1.38) ERA and racked up 19 strikeouts while averaging exactly one baserunner per inning. His final appearance as an Oriole, though, was his most forgettable one of the year, as he coughed up the game-losing home run to the Rays’ Michael Perez on Wednesday.
Givens was a homegrown Oriole, drafted as a shortstop in the second round of the 2009 draft. The Birds converted the offensively-challenged Givens to pitching in 2013 and he took to it instantly, rising to the majors by June 2015. He was the longest-tenured Orioles pitcher on this year’s roster, and the second longest-tenured player behind Chris Davis.
Givens departs the Orioles with a career 3.32 ERA in 296 games, going 20-17 with 20 saves and striking out 10.9 batters per nine. From 2015-2017, he served as a middle reliever and setup man in a stacked O’s bullpen that featured Zack Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and others; in 2018, he took over the closer’s role for the Birds after the aforementioned three relievers were traded.
In 2019, Givens was the Orioles’ de facto closer, but struggled in the role, converting just 11 of his 19 save opportunities while posting an 0-7 record. (In two consecutive appearances in May, he lost a game and blew a save in Colorado, the ballpark he’ll now call his home.) With Cole Sulser replacing him as the O’s closer this season, Givens seemed much more at ease in a setup role, keeping his trade value high enough that the Rockies were willing to part with a generous return.
And at first glance, it seems like a generous return indeed. Vavra and Nevin were the ranked as the Rockies’ No. 7 and No. 14 prospects, respectively, by MLB Pipeline. Vavra, a 23-year-old middle infielder, was the Rockies’ third-round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2018. He was named the South Atlantic League MVP in 2019 after batting .318/.409/.489 with 10 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 18 steals for Low-A Asheville. He had as many walks (62) as strikeouts.
MLB Pipeline’s bio of Vavra lauds his plate discipline and line-drive approach: “The switch-hitter manipulates the bat head and doesn’t get fooled, consistently squaring up the baseball and sending line drives to all fields, with more power coming from the left side of the plate so far.” One knock on Vavra has been his glove, as the youngster has moved around the diamond looking for his best defensive position. Still, his bat alone makes him a legitimate prospect.
Nevin, 23, was a first-round pick by the Rockies (No. 38 overall) in 2015 from Poway HS in California. He, too, is a bat-first prospect, a former Arizona Fall League batting title champ who put up eye-popping numbers as recently as 2018 with High-A Lancaster (.328/.386/.503 with 13 homers and 62 RBIs in 100 games). He tapered off a bit last year at Double-A Hartford, slashing .251/.345/.399 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs in 130 games.
Nevin has been plagued by injuries for much of his minor league career and is limited defensively to first base or the corner outfield, but Pipeline still believes in his potential. “Nevin has used outstanding plate discipline and an ability to make consistent hard contact to hit for average at every stop before the 2019 season. ... He might break into the big leagues as a super-utility type, but he’s still plenty young enough to develop into a big league regular at first base.”
Both Vavra and Nevin come from MLB families. Nevin is the son of longtime infielder and now Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, while Vavra’s father, Joe, is the hitting coach for the Tigers. The two of them, along with a PTBNL, certainly seem like a hearty return for Givens, a quality relief pitcher who nonetheless had little role on a rebuilding O’s club and is a free agent after 2021.
The Orioles’ roster moves continued fast and furious Sunday, with the club replacing Givens and Milone on the active roster by calling up Keegan Akin for the third time — possibly to make Monday’s start in place of Milone — while activating Hunter Harvey from the injured list to make his 2020 debut.