Valuing the trade chips: Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles struggled through their worst season in franchise history in 2018, going 47-115, good for just a .290 winning percentage. With a historically awful pitching staff and a weak lineup, Baltimore sits at the bottom of the AL East and will certainly be sellers once more this summer.
Here’s a breakdown of some of those pieces they might sell (values in $Ms):
Last July, the Orioles held the deadline’s top trade chip and eventually sent infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a sizable prospect package. While they don’t have another superstar rental to deal this summer, they have a handful of controllable pieces available that should each net a decent return.
Trey Mancini (28.3) is in the midst of a serious breakout. The slugger still holds an OPS north of .900 and is more than halfway to his career high in homers. But the Orioles could see Mancini as a piece to build around given his youth and team control. He is a decent first baseman, but a below average defensive outfielder, and few contenders are going to give premium prospect talent for such a limited defensive player. If the rival Washington Nationals find their way back into the race, they could be a match. It would take some of their most interesting young prospects in shortstop Luis Garcia (18.7) and lefties Tim Cate (5.6) and Seth Romero (3.0).
If it seems like Dylan Bundy (7.3) has been with the Orioles forever, it’s because he has. Baltimore drafted the righty fourth overall back in 2011, but injuries and inconsistency slowed his career. He debuted in 2012, but did not become a valuable major league contributor until 2016. Since then, he has shown surprising durability but is seriously homer-prone and might be in need of a change of scenery. The talent is there, and perhaps a team like the Milwaukee Brewers is willing to gamble on Bundy given his two additional years of team control. It could cost the Brewers a prospect package of outfielders Joe Gray (4.7) and Trent Grisham (2.2).
Lefty Paul Fry (6.9) could also net Baltimore a significant prospect. In less than two years at the major league level, the southpaw has shown himself to be a more than capable LOOGY. Solid left-handed relievers can be tough to come by, and Fry is under control for five more seasons beyond 2019. But with so much team control, the Orioles could opt to hang onto their young lefty.
Mychal Givens (3.3) has long been one of the most underrated relievers in the game, and should have many suitors. The righty comes with two additional years of team control and has an extensive track record of success, but his rough 2019 lowers his value significantly. While not seen as an elite closer, a team like the Boston Red Sox would love to add Givens to their bullpen mix. A package of young infielder Brandon Howlett (2.2) and outifielder Marino Campana (1.1) would be a perfect fit.
Jonathan Villar (4.0) was an excellent acquisition by Baltimore. The Orioles snagged the young infielder from Milwaukee as part of last summer’s Jonathan Schoop trade. While Schoop struggled for the Brewers and was non-tendered in the offseason, Villar has been solid for the Orioles and looks like a piece they can flip again for prospects. Although many contenders are set at 2B, some may be interested in his power-speed combo and extra year of team control.
The Orioles have a handful of underwater contracts, but are unlikely to be able to worm out of any of them. Mark Trumbo (-11.7) will be a free agent after this season, and maybe a team will take a chance on him as a bench bat if Baltimore pays down his contract. Similarly, Andrew Cashner (-9.5) might benefit from a transition to the bullpen. However, Alex Cobb (-27.5) and Chris Davis (-92.0) will likely finish out the remainder of their contracts on Baltimore’s payroll, especially as the former is now out for the season with a knee injury.
The Orioles won’t get another Machado-esque haul this summer. However, teams should be interested in some of their controllable pitching. Additionally, if an injury causes a contender to lose a big bat at first base, Baltimore could shake up the market by making Mancini available.