Who Could The Orioles Trade Next?
The dust has settled on a pretty turbulent trade deadline and it’s time to look around and survey the situation.
Manny Machado is gone, which was no surprise. Same with Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day. In a mild surprise, Jonathan Schoop was dealt away to Milwaukee despite having another year before free agency. And in a slightly bigger surprise, Kevin Gausman was sent to Atlanta despite facing two more years of arbitration.
The aggressive approach is encouraging, though, as is the acquisition of $2.5 million in international signing money from the Braves, which signifies a potential organizational shift in attitude toward international prospects.
The question now is … what’s next? Let’s take a look at some key players who survived the deadline purge and try to assess the possibility of more trades before the 2019 season.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
If the Orioles were willing to trade Gausman, you have to figure Bundy was on the block as well. Bundy has one more year under team control than Gausman has, not being eligible for free agency until 2022. Given results of the last three seasons, Bundy appears to be a steadier if less dynamic presence than Gausman, with perhaps less upside.
At this point, it doesn’t make much sense to deal Bundy. He’s cheap and under team control, and has yet to approach the expectations attached to him when he was chosen No. 4 overall in the 2011 draft. The Orioles still have some time to figure out if he’ll be their ace of the future. And if he continues to look essentially like a league-average pitcher, they can always deal him at some point down the line.
Givens was featured heavily in trade rumors leading up to the deadline but in the end he did not follow bullpen mates Britton, Brach and O’Day out the door. I’ve seen talk that Givens will likely fit in as the Orioles’ new closer, but I’ve yet to see an explanation for why the O’s would need a closer anytime soon.
Kidding aside, the O’s could still potentially find a trade for the right-hander, either by the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline or in the offseason. But the O’s don’t have much incentive to deal him, as they’d be selling low on a 28-year old struggling through the worst season of his career. Givens is under club control until 2022 and making just $566,500 so it makes more sense to see if he can rebound next spring and become an affordable late-inning stud before considering a trade.
There were plenty of eye-rolls when the O’s signed the veteran right-hander last offseason, but the 31-year-old has arguably been the team’s most reliable starter, leading the O’s main rotation arms in ERA (4.33), ERA+ (97) and HRs/9 (1.3). Those numbers aren’t great, but they’re certainly serviceable and make Cashner a potential trade candidate for either the Aug. 31 deadline or in the offseason. Cashner’s contract only has about $11.5 million left on it through the 2019 season, and the O’s could probably increase their return by offering to eat some of that. Consider it a long shot, but if a contender loses a pitcher in the next couple weeks, Duquette should get that team on the phone quickly.
Largely lost in the misery of the 2018 season is the fact that Trumbo has had a bit of a resurgence, putting together a solid .252/.311/.427 slash line. The veteran has not been as good of late and has yet to homer since the All-Star break. Still, it’s been refreshing to see him once again become a contributor of sorts as arguably the O’s third-best hitter this season behind Machado and Adam Jones.
Trumbo’s contract runs out after 2019, so a trade partner would only be on the hook for about $15 million. And if the O’s offered to eat some of that, perhaps a deal could be made before the Aug. 31 deadline. I still think the odds are small of that actually happening – hit-only players with a 102 OPS+ aren’t going to be in high demand, after all – but it’s possible. Just don’t expect to get a ton in return. Look at it more like an opportunity to free up a roster spot.
With a OPS+ of 104 and nine home runs in just 265 plate appearances, Valencia could make a nice right-handed bench bat or spot starter for a contender. He’s especially good against left-handers, with a 2018 split of .320/.381/.534 vs. southpaws, which follows fairly closely to his career split. The list of lefties he’s terrorized include Dallas Keuchel (1.133 OPS), David Price (1.387) and James Paxton (1.645). He’s also cheap as a pending free agent who’s owed only what’s left of his $1.2 million deal for 2018. Don’t be surprised if somebody picks him up before Aug. 31.
Jones reportedly blocked a trade to the Phillies, opting to play out the last year of his Orioles contract in Baltimore rather than play for a contender. And he didn’t mince words when explaining why he did so, leaping out in front of any potential criticism. “When players walked out years ago and walked the picket lines and stuff, they did that for reasons like this,” he said. “I earned this and it’s my decision. I don’t have to explain it to nobody. It’s my decision. Thank you.”
He’s absolutely right. As a 10-and-5 player (10 years of MLB service time, and the last five with one team) Jones has the right to block any trade. And let’s be honest, moving is no fun. That being said, there is nothing to stop the Orioles from benching Jones, and Dan Duquette hinted at that possibility, saying the team “is going to start auditioning some young players for full-time jobs for the future.”
Would Jones change his mind and accept a waiver-deadline trade? The odds seem small, about as small as him returning to Baltimore beyond this season. But that gives fans some time to appreciate the career of a truly great Oriole.
When the O’s signed Cobb to what looked like a perfectly reasonable 4-year, $57 million contract late in the offseason, I thought at the time that if nothing else they could probably flip him to a contender at the deadline. That didn’t happen for the obvious reason that Cobb, 30, has had one of the worst seasons of his career, with a 6.08 ERA, 69 ERA+, 4.92 FIP and 1.563 WHIP.
Some of that can be attributed to Cobb signing so late and missing out on the routine of a proper spring training (Greg Holland has had similar struggles in St. Louis), so hope remains that he can be a solid rotation regular for the next three seasons in Baltimore. Regardless, he’s pretty much untradeable at the moment, so it doesn’t make much sense to try to deal Cobb now. Perhaps by setting the reset button in 2019, Cobb could be a valuable trade commodity next summer, however.
Speaking of untradeable … Chris Davis’ descent has been sad to witness, as the veteran first baseman has been nothing short of lost. The .157/.242/.302 line is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you consider he is owed $84M over the next 4 years, plus an additional $42M deferred through 2037, left on his contract. Ideally, the O’s could have packaged Davis in a trade along with somebody with upside and shed at least some of that salary in the process. But as the season wore on it was easily apparent that wasn’t going to happen. At this point, the O’s could offer to eat ALL of his contract and still not find a taker. So Davis isn’t going anywhere until he shows something, and the Orioles might eventually have to opt to swallow all that cash and simply cut him.