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Several under-the-radar moves helped spark Orioles’ success this year

Bullpen shakeups, outfield decisions and extending Brandon Hyde all put Baltimore in a position to be successful.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Another trade deadline is in the books. The Orioles parted with two of their best players from this season in an effort to bolster the club in the future. Whether one approves of the logic or not, I’m sure everyone is familiar with the concept by now.

Trades are like drafts in that it’s impossible to give a complete evaluation right away. Moves can be critiqued, but nobody can predict the future. We’re all left waiting to see how things play out.

We may not know how Baltimore’s newest prospects will develop, but we do know who made the moves. Mike Elias and his team of executives have not been perfect, but they did piece together this year’s overachieving bunch. Plenty of things needed to go right for the Orioles to sit above .500 in the month of August, and several under-the-radar decisions helped produce a competitive team this year.

Baltimore turned some heads when they elected to add Felix Bautista to the 40-man roster during the offseason. The Orioles made the move to protect The Mountain from the Rule 5 draft. The draft never took place after labor negotiations dragged into the spring, but the move indicated that Elias knew what he had in Bautista.

The Birds surprised many when they added Bautista to their Opening Day roster back in April. Bautista had just 18.1 innings of Triple-A experience under his belt and issued nine walks during that stretch.

The Orioles had room for Bautista after they dealt Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser to the Marlins. It remains to be seen whether left-hander Antonio Velez or outfielder Kevin Guerrero will develop into contributors, but the Orioles selected Jud Fabian with the pick they acquired from Miami.

The bullpen improved after Elias shook up the backend, but a trade within the team made the biggest difference of them all. Jorge López and Tyler Wells swapped places after Wells shined in the closer role last year and López struggled taking the ball every fifth day. The move resulted in Wells developing into the team’s best starter and López appearing in the All-Star Game.

The Orioles gained four pitching prospects from Minnesota in exchange for López yesterday. They would not have received that type of offer for López last season.

The losses of Scott and Sulser truly felt like they would hurt the team in 2022. They didn’t. The team took another chance when they moved on from someone else early in the season.

The Orioles designated DJ Stewart for assignment just two weeks after he ran down the orange carpet on Opening Day. Baltimore exposed the corner outfielder to waivers but managed to keep the former first-round pick in the organization.

Stewart likely will never make it back to Baltimore, but making the move early allowed extra time for Ryan McKenna to audition. McKenna took advantage and has earned respect with his play this season.

Several key decisions helped improve the club on the field, but it also behooved the Orioles to extend the guy calling the shots in the dugout. Reports came out in April that the Orioles had extended skipper Brandon Hyde beyond 2022.

Few have attempted to blame Hyde for the Orioles’ poor play over the last few years. The 48-year-old has remained out of the spotlight during the majority of the rebuild, but Hyde has flourished with the club this year. MASN’s Roch Kubatko wrote earlier this week that Hyde’s impact cannot be hidden.

Hyde has pushed the right buttons this season while managing to win games. His players respect him, and the club was right to prevent Hyde from a lame-duck situation.

It’s natural to get judgmental after the trade deadline passes. Why in the world did Baltimore acquire Brett Phillips when it already had McKenna, Yusniel Diaz and Kyle Stowers in the organization?

I can’t explain why the Orioles felt the need to buy a below .200 hitter when they hold a surplus of outfielders. Then again, I would not have had the confidence to ship Scott and Sulser to Miami. I had no idea that Bautista would flourish in the majors right out of the gate.

I wrote last month that the Orioles’ recent success should only inspire confidence in their future. When attempting to evaluate Baltimore’s recent moves, it’s important to take previous decisions into account. Even when decisions seem puzzling at the time, Elias has earned the benefit of the doubt.