Orioles: Who Could Be Traded?
The Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees have unofficially launched MLB’s annual march toward the trade deadline, with Seattle sending slugger Edwin Encarnacion into the AL East with a deal on Saturday.
With that, and with the deadline sitting a little more than six weeks away, it’s time to take a look at who the Baltimore Orioles could be parting ways with in the hopes of stockpiling assets for a brighter future.
Before we get started, let’s just point out from the beginning that Chris Davis isn’t going anywhere – not in a trade anyway. The Orioles simply might pull the plug and release him, eating the rest of his contract (as Chris suggests here) but nobody is going to call up Mike Elias and ask what great prospects he’ll accept in return for that 49 OPS+, even if the O’s make it clear they’ll pay the rest of the contract. So while releasing him could happen, and makes a lot of sense, there won’t be a trade.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig in to who might be gone by the end of July.
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The veteran would have been a great candidate for a trade heading into the season if he has just been able to get healthy. After all, the man hit 47 home runs just three seasons ago and his marketability would have been heightened by the fact that unlike Davis, he’s in the final year of his contact and thus comes cheaply.
But alas it wasn’t to be. Trumbo was never able to bounce back from the knee surgery he underwent last September, and after suffering some soreness during a rehab start last week, he was placed on the 60-day injured list on June 13.
He’s not expected to play at all for at least a week, putting his return completely up in the air, which is a shame. Even if Trumbo does return in the next couple of weeks and manages to rake, teams will be sure to point out the knee troubles in any trade negotiations. So even if the O’s are able to trade him, the return will be slim.
Villar, himself a trade acquisition from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop deal last summer, had seemingly positioned himself as a likely trade candidate once again. It certainly looked like that over the winter after a solid 54 games post-trade, as well as early this season. Villar has cooled some since, with his OPS+ sitting at 89, just four points below his career average.
So the time to “strike while the iron is hot” might have passed for Villar, but he remains a legitimate big-league talent who can hit a little bit, run quite a bit (12 steals in 16 attempts this season) and man the middle infield competently. He’s also 28 years old and not eligible for free agency until 2021, so he comes with two extra years of team control beyond this one.
The Orioles should trade Villar in the next few weeks, and they should net a little something in return, if not a top prospect.
Once considered a future ace, the sparkle sadly faded from Bundy’s star long ago, his once-godly stuff replaced with more pedestrian fare due in large part to injuries.
Nonetheless, Bundy should still be able to fetch some decent offers on the trade market, thanks to his age (26), his salary ($2.8 million) and the fact that he doesn’t hit free agency until 2022. On top of that, the big right-hander has managed to put up some solid numbers this season, whiffing 9.4 per nine innings and has a 4.44 ERA with a 4.93 FIP. Those aren’t ace-like numbers by any stretch, but if he could just cut down on his walks and keep the ball in the yard a bit more, he’d have something there.
Even so, Bundy is at the very least an average to slightly-better-than-average big league pitcher. He’s also still young and cheap. Elias should be able to market that in conversations with opposing GMs.
What happened to Givens, who once looked like a future bullpen ace? It seems like as his role has increased over the last couple of years, the worse he has pitched. Now, handed the closer’s role because the O’s have traded everybody else, Givens is putting up career-worst numbers in ERA (4.82), WHIP (1.286), home runs/nine innings (1.9) and walks/nine (4.5).
If Elias had planned to dangle Givens on the market this summer, Givens has seemingly done his best to thwart just that. Nonetheless, Elias should be able to convince somebody to take a shot on a sub-30 reliever who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2022. The right-hander did have a solid track record. Perhaps someone thinks they can turn him around?
Cashner is a lot like Bundy, only older, not as good, and without the pedigree. OK, maybe he’s not that much like Bundy, but he does have one thing in common – he looks like an average-ish, cheap, big-league pitcher who Elias will try to find a new home for by August.
Cashner has been far from spectacular, but he could be a back-of-the-rotation guy – or even a swing man – on a good team, and the commitment is small, with just a team option for 2020. There are only two little problems with trying to deal Cashner – he is currently dealing with a blister that caused him to miss Sunday’s start, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere. Cashner is actually on record saying he wishes he had a no-trade clause.
“At the end of the day, I kind of control what I want to do,” he said. “Whether I want to go, whether I want to stay, I’d just have to sit down with my family and find out what’s best for us.”
So Cashner might just call it quits if he’s traded. Putting that out there isn’t going to help Elias’ cause.
This is a tough one. On the one hand, Mancini seems to be the one player that could bring an elite package in any trade. After all he is putting up a .307/.359/.561 slash line at the plate, he’s entering his prime at age 27 and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2023. And by the time the Orioles are good, Mancini will likely be in his 30s.
All of this adds up to a scream-it-from-the-rooftops conclusion that the Orioles HAVE to trade Mancini.
But is it that obvious? Perhaps Mancini brings more value to the Orioles as an eager clubhouse leader than he would to anybody else. Maybe it could be that his ability to hit at Camden, along with his positive impact as a leader of the youthful wave that will be coming, outweighs the impact he would make on a contender, where he would merely be a good right-handed bat with very limited defensive skills.
I’m not saying the O’s should keep him, in fact I believe they should trade him. At the very least they should actively shop him. But I can also understand the argument for keeping him around as the player to shepherd the clubhouse through these difficult times as the franchise returns (hopefully) to contention.
Bob Harkins is a former editor and writer for Time Warner Cable Sports in Los Angeles, where he helped cover the Dodgers and Lakers. Prior to that, he was a senior editor and writer for NBCSports.com, leading the site’s coverage of Major League Baseball for nine seasons. He always believed that Major League catcher was the toughest job in sports -- until he wrote a series on professional rodeo cowboys. Talk about tough!