Across the whole of MLB, the 24 hours leading up to this year’s trade deadline saw a flurry of activity with big-name players being moved in big deals for big-name prospects. Fans who wanted to see something happen were surely not disappointed. In Birdland, where there were no big-name players to move and therefore no big deals to make, Orioles fans had to settle for finding out immediately after the deadline passed that the O’s have dealt Freddy Galvis back to the Phillies. That was it.
Galvis, 31, is currently on the injured list, though he’s near enough to a return that the Phillies apparently decided it was worth going out and getting him. Galvis had been a Phillie for six seasons. His .249/.306/.414 batting so far this season isn’t too exciting, except that it would be the best-hitting season of his career, and current Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius is only OPSing .645. The emergence of Ramón Urías while Galvis has been on the injured list made Galvis even more available in a trade.
In the trade, the Orioles received 23-year-old right-handed reliever Tyler Burch from Philadelphia. Burch was an undrafted free agent following the 2019 draft, having played his college ball at Lewis-Clark State in Idaho. He is not on the most recent MLB Pipeline top 30 Phillies list, but does check in at #36 on the current Fangraphs Phillies list, with an up arrow next to his name.
The appeal of Burch is surely that he has combined to strike out 49 batters in 29.1 innings across the Low-A and High-A levels this year. It’s a tiny walk rate, too, with a BB/9 of just 2.5. Let’s spend more time looking at his 2.45 ERA and 0.818 WHIP for High-A Jersey Shore than his 4.91 ERA and 1.255 WHIP for Low-A Clearwater. Burch will be 24 in a bit more than a month. I wonder if the O’s will have him facing more age-appropriate competition in Double-A soon or even right away.
Prior to the afternoon’s spate of of trades around the league, the Orioles made a couple of small moves that hardly even register on the Richter scale. Minor league reliever Shawn Armstrong, a former Oriole who’d been designated for assignment earlier in the season, was sent to the Rays for cash considerations.
The O’s also made a waiver claim, plucking lefty Ryan Hartman from the Astros. Hartman was designated for assignment on July 25, having appeared in one MLB game for Houston. The 27-year-old has been a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, and has a 5.03 ERA in 13 games for Triple-A Sugar Land this year. He had reached the Triple-A level in 2019, when he had a 5.84 ERA over a full season for the Astros then-affiliate Round Rock. He’ll fit right in.
Hartman was drafted by the Astros in the ninth round of the 2016 draft, at which time Mike Elias was still an assistant for Houston. I’d rather see him pitch than Shaun Anderson. Perhaps Elias would rather see that as well.
The claim of a lefty pitcher sparked a little curiosity about whether this might be a precursor to either of the bullpen lefties, Paul Fry or Tanner Scott, being dealt. With less than an hour to go until the deadline, The Athletic’s Dan Connolly reported that the Orioles were still working on at least one deal involving a reliever. His sources said the O’s were asking “a ton” for Fry or Scott earlier in the day.
Orioles fans are as well acquainted as anyone with why neither Fry nor Scott is worth “a ton,” especially when there were a bunch of trades across the league where the selling team actually did net a ton. The Twins sent Jose Berrios to the Blue Jays for last year’s #5 pick, Austin Martin, and another top 100 prospect, Simeon Woods-Richardson. The Mets got Javier Baez from the Cubs and traded away their first rounder from last year, Pete Crow-Armstrong. And then there was that Max Scherzer/Trea Turner to the Dodgers blockbuster.
In the end, it seems that no one offered whatever Elias was looking for to deal Fry or Scott and so he held on to them. Neither of those relievers is set to become a free agent until after the 2024 season, so there will be other chances for them to be dealt, perhaps when their trade value is higher based on better recent performance.
Scott has walked 15% of batters he’s faced this season. A real contending team doesn’t need that from a high leverage reliever. Fry’s 11.7% walk rate isn’t much better in that regard. In this trade market, even if both of them had been traded, those deals wouldn’t have registered very much on the Richter scale either.
Everyone else who it would have genuinely surprised me to see them traded - John Means, Trey Mancini, and for the truly dedicated rebuild nihilists Cedric Mullins - will be staying an Oriole as well, at least until the offseason and Elias re-assesses where things are. He hasn’t been shy about making offseason trades in his tenure.