Orioles' most high-profile trade candidates have dropped in value - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Orioles’ most high-profile trade candidates have dropped in value

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

For the rebuilding Orioles, 2019 is expected to be a season of change, as first-year executive vice president Mike Elias attempts to reshape the roster and increase the talent level throughout the organization.

Part of that change involves making trades. Casting off veterans in exchange for minor league talent is a tried-and-true method for building a future contender. It worked to great effect for Elias’ previous employer, the Houston Astros, when general manager Jeff Luhnow pulled off a slew of deals after his hiring in December 2011, stockpiling prospects who became the core of the 2017 World Series championship club.

Will Elias follow a similar path for the Orioles this season? Well, it might be a more challenging task than initially thought. Many of the Orioles’ most marketable veterans have damaged their value with ineffective or injury-plagued seasons in 2019.

The most obvious example is relief pitcher Mychal Givens.

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Coming into the season, Givens figured to be the Orioles’ most valuable trade commodity. He entered 2019 with a career 3.12 ERA and 10.4 strikeout rate, and showed in the final months of 2018 that he could handle the closer’s role, converting nine of 11 save attempts after taking over the job. With three years of team control remaining, the 29-year-old Givens probably could have fetched a quality prospect or two from a contending club looking for bullpen help.

Two months into the season, though, Givens’ stock has plummeted.

His meltdown against the Rockies on Sunday — in which he walked the first two batters he faced to force in the tying run, then allowed a game-ending sacrifice fly — was his latest implosion in a week full of them. Givens lost the first game of the Colorado series Friday night, giving up a walkoff two-run homer to Trevor Story. The previous day, he walked home the go-ahead run against the New York Yankees in the ninth after the Orioles had rallied to tie in the eighth. And the outing before that, Givens was called to protect a two-run lead and allowed five runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Yankees.

Givens has a 24.00 ERA in his last four outings, suffering two blown saves and three losses in those games. Most alarmingly, his control has abandoned him; he’s walked six batters in his last three innings. All told, Givens’ ERA now sits at 5.56 for the season, and he’s converted only four of his seven save opportunities. His 5.2 walks per nine innings’ rate is a career worst.

That’s not necessarily going to send potential trade partners streaming for the exits. Givens has a mostly successful track record in the majors and still has dynamic stuff. But his recent struggles may be enough to give teams pause when pondering a trade — and certainly could lessen the return package they offer in any proposed deal.

Givens isn’t the only Oriole whose value may be less than it once was.

On the starting pitching side, the Orioles were expected to shop veterans Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner. Cobb, who sparkled with a 2.56 ERA in 11 games in the second half of 2018, might have generated some trade interest if he’d been able to build on that momentum to start this year. The Orioles potentially could have extracted a decent prospect from another team, especially if they were willing to pick up part of the remaining $43 million on Cobb’s contract.

That’s no longer a possibility in the near future. Cobb has as many trips to the injured list as games pitched this season (three), going 0-2 with a 10.95 ERA before most recently returning to the shelf with a lumbar strain April 28. Last week, Cobb was transferred to the 60-day IL, and he doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to returning.

Cashner, meanwhile, has enjoyed a bounceback in 2019, going 5-2 with a 4.55 ERA after struggling last season (4-15, 5.29). His strikeout rate (7.3) is his best since 2016, and his walk rate (3.0) his best since 2014. It wouldn’t be surprising to see teams kick the tires on Cashner, an established starter and strong clubhouse presence.

But there might be a complication. In an interview with The Athletic’s Dan Connolly, Cashner said that he’s very comfortable in Baltimore — and might consider walking away from the game if he were traded to a new team.

Cashner can’t veto a trade, but interested clubs might take Cashner’s words into consideration. That can’t help the Orioles’ bargaining position in trade talks.

A couple other veteran Orioles, Richard Bleier and Mark Trumbo, have been torpedoed by injuries, damaging any modest trade value they might have had. The 32-year-old Bleier was a stalwart performer in the Baltimore bullpen two years in a row, posting sub-2.00 ERAs in both 2017 and 2018, but he holds a 9.28 mark in 2019. Bleier has made just nine appearances, spending more than a month on the IL with left shoulder tendinitis.

Trumbo hasn’t played at all this season while recovering from right knee surgery last September. Trumbo will be starting a rehab assignment soon, and the best hope for the Orioles is that he’ll hit well upon his return, intriguing a contender in need of power. Still, one-dimensional players like Trumbo generally don’t garner a ton of interest on the trade market. Plus, his injury troubles the last two seasons, following a subpar 2017 campaign, won’t have teams lining up for his services.

That’s not to say there aren’t any tradable assets on the Orioles. Trey Mancini has put himself back on the radar screen by batting .307 with a .908 OPS, 10 home runs and 26 RBIs. He’s demonstrated that he can do more than just hit home runs, and the Orioles could receive plenty of calls on the 27-year-old. It remains to be seen whether Elias would pull the trigger on a trade that would send one of the club’s best and most recognizable players out of Baltimore. The front office has plenty of time to make a decision on Mancini, who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season.

Similarly, the 26-year-old Dylan Bundy, under team control through 2021, is a potential trade target if his recent improvement continues. Bundy has a 2.28 ERA in four starts in May after a rough April showing (6.67). While Bundy, a former No. 4 overall pick, probably won’t reach the ace status he was once projected for, there’s enough life in his arm to intrigue teams in need of rotation help.

Perhaps the most likely player to end the season with another team is Jonathan Villar, who, after a slow start, has raised his offensive numbers to a solid level. After a 2-for-4 performance Sunday, Villar is batting .256 with a .723 OPS, almost exactly matching his career numbers. He’s also 9-for-11 in stolen base attempts. He could contribute to a contender with his bat and his speed, although he’s struggled defensively while splitting time between second base and shortstop.

It’s a safe bet that the Orioles will swing at least one deal before the July 31 deadline; it’d be surprising if Elias completely stood pat. Still, for fans hoping the club will trade away a number of veterans for prospects this year, as they did a year ago, you may be disappointed. The Orioles simply don’t have many valuable commodities to sell.

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. bill-s

    May 27, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Meanwhile, who remembers Nestor Cortes, Jr.? The rule 5 pitcher whom the Orioles decided to return to the Yankees after a lousy showing in Baltimore. Check out yesterday’s Yankee box score. Cortes threw four scoreless innings in relief, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four. Hmmm…

    • VegasOriole

      May 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Nestor Cortes Jr sucked for the Orioles. Kept Araujo, who did just as horrible until he got “injured”.

    • Jbigle1

      May 27, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      He has a 5.40 ERA…..If you’re going to get mad every time an ex oriole pitches a good couple of innings you’ll probably be angry til the day you die…..Lets not mention ex players until they actually perform well in the aggregate. I’m sure the Mets could’ve said the same thing about Ynoa 2 weeks ago….

  2. B.C. Bird

    May 27, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I must be missing something. This new progressive thinking management should be trying new strategies, why not bring in an experienced person to mentor Mr. Hyde in his first year. If they truly believe he is the guy to take them to the next level give him some help. His inexperience is choking the life out of this young team and making them unbearable to watch. Don Zimmer did it in the past, possibly Davey Johnson is available or J.J. sitting unemployed in Phoenix. Hyde clearly cannot do this by himself

    • mindless1

      May 27, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      I like it!
      Bring in someone capable like Davey J to mentor Hyde & serve as a bench coach.
      Apparently, sitting next to Maddon last year was not enough.

    • ClayDal

      May 28, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      I would think that Hyde does rely on his pitching coach for advice on when to keep/remove the pitcher from the game. There is a balancing act between winning today’s game and wearing out the pitching staff. You mentioned Joe Maddon, one thing that helped him when he took over Tampa Bay was the lack of expectations. There was (is) no fan base, and no winning history. He could do a lot of unconventional outside the box moves and if they worked fine, if not who cares. This year is about experimenting and seeing what works. As they become more competitive I would expect Hyde to manage more conventionally

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 27, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Trade Mancini and/or VIllar? The only 2 bona-fide major leaguers in the entire lineup? Now there’s another couple of ingenious ideas.

    • SailinO

      May 27, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Please explain where the Orioles are going with them? Should we expect the playoffs?

      • Jbigle1

        May 27, 2019 at 5:17 pm

        Yeah, Villar is going to find himself non tendered this offseason. If you think the orioles or any other team would pay him 9 million dollars, I’d have to disagree. We’re either trading him or waving goodbye at seasons end… If they feel this is trading Mancini at peak value I’d do that to.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 28, 2019 at 10:19 am

        No, they won’t get us into the playoffs, but having a little bit of pride in the mean time counts for something in my book. My generation didn’t get trophies for just showing up. Tanking is for losers.

        • Jbigle1

          May 28, 2019 at 12:35 pm

          That’s your view that it’s a tank but getting assets that will help you tomorrow for Assets that won’t be there or won’t be as good is just smart baseball. Mancini is a 1B prospect; they don’t age that well. Mountcastle looks to be a 1B so that’ll mean One of them has to be our everyday DH. That severely limits any roster flexibility we have and Mancini is going to get pricey. If for example Chance Sisco or another guy needs to move off a position 1B or DH is the obvious choice but they’d be blocked here. That doesn’t make sense to me to give a bunch of money to in an extension. It sounds like you get another Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis situation to me.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            May 28, 2019 at 1:14 pm

            My understanding is that Mancini is under control until 2021. Let’s worry about that then. And yeah, having nothing but minor league talent in a major league ballpark is bush league, and so it trading away your best players when you have so few. And if it’s not tanking, what is it? Elias track record says so, and he’s following his own blueprint.

    • Borg

      May 28, 2019 at 5:27 am

      A trade of either player revolves around whether or not the Os believe they can contend in 2021. Not World Champs, mind you, but in the playoff hunt. If they think their young pitchers at Frederick, Bowie, Delmarva are going to be major league ready the year after next, then the right course might be to buy out Mancini’s arbitration years (3) and tack on another two years, with maybe some club option for further extensions. If the team won’t contend until 2022 or beyond, there is absolutely no reason to hold onto either player. (and I argued just a few weeks ago on one of these threads that they should keep Mancini, using your exact logic). Let’s face it, in a teardown no one is protected.

      It’s all about what the long-term prospects for winning might be. If both players combined could net 4-5 prospects, especially a couple of pitchers, they might pull the trigger. If they are closer to having an actual pitching staff than it now appears, I’d say extend Mancini for sure, and perhaps see if Villar would take a reasonable contract. It’s all about where they’ll be the year after next.

    • ClayDal

      May 28, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      I don’t think the Orioles are going to just give away Mancini as he is under control for 3 years. If the Orioles can get a solid return for him that can help them down the road they should at least consider it. One thing that would work against the Orioles getting much for Trey is that most of your contenders are set at first base-which is where he would be playing on a contending team. So I think Trey is safe this year. Villar, on the other hand, will almost certainly be gone, if not at the deadline, he won’t be here next Opening Day. Makes just under 5 million would probably get 7.5 million in his last year of arbitration. No way the Orioles pay that when they can just plug in Wilkerson at 2b and save 7 million dollars

    • SailinO

      May 28, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      Boog, your book isn’t the only book. Are you proud of the current 17-37 record because of Mancini and Villars presence?

  4. CalsPals

    May 27, 2019 at 10:17 am

    How about trading Hyde?

    • Camden Brooks

      May 27, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      Pretty quick to judge. Like you and me, he isn’t perfect, but give the man a chance.

    • CalsPals

      May 27, 2019 at 5:42 pm

      He’s too wish washy, he was the one who said I’m gonna sit “Mike” for a few days & put him right back in, I would keep putting him in, but I didn’t say I would rest him, put Buck on the bench w/him…lol

    • Camden Brooks

      May 27, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      Like I said, he isn’t perfect. However, he knows more baseball than you, me, and this entire board. So for now I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.

  5. ClayDal

    May 27, 2019 at 10:24 am

    I was checking Baseball Reference looking at the Astros trades after 2011 and 12 Outside of Marwin González didn’t acquire anyone who was part of the core of that World Series team. Built an outstanding farm system thru the draft and international signings (Altuve). Were able to use their surplus to acquire Verlander to put them over the top in 2017. Trey is really the only player who could net much of a return. Still has 3 yrs of team control so wouldn’t trade him unless got solid return. Givens is under control thru 2021 so no need to give him away just yet-let him straighten himself out first. I would almost be tempted to keep Cashner and try to sign him in the offseason-probably not too expensive and likes it here. Need someone to eat up innings until the guys in a Single A are ready. I think Villar will be gone-free agent after next year and they have Wilkerson to plug in. One thing that hurts the Orioles is the standings-looks like more sellers than buyers this year

    • Bmoreravens3

      May 28, 2019 at 10:43 am

      Keep in mind if we would have made a trade in 2014 to acquire a pitcher like Verlander it may have put us over the top too.
      Traded before the deadline and led to big contribution to win Recent World Series titles:
      2015- Royals- Johnny Cueto
      2016- Cubs- Aroldis Chapman
      2017- Astros- Justin Verlander
      2018- Red Sox- Nathan Eovaldi & Steve Pearce (WS MVP)

    • ClayDal

      May 28, 2019 at 11:49 am

      The Orioles did trade for Andrew Miller in 2014 and he was very valuable in their postseason run. If my memory serves , the Tigers got David Price , and Oakland got Jon Lester and Jeff Smarzda . All the baseball pundits said that Oakland and Detroit were going to meet in the ALCS that year-didn’t happen. The key to get a stud starting pitcher to put you over the top is to have a surplus of prospects

    • Bmoreravens3

      May 29, 2019 at 10:18 am

      That is true. Andrew Miller was a great addition to our already stellar bullpen. Still had a inconsistent rotation however. I believe the prospect we weren’t willing to part with (correct me if I’m wrong) was Gausman.

    • ClayDal

      May 29, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Not sure about any starting pitchers the Orioles were pursuing. Gausman was actually in the majors at the time and was a solid contributor. What doomed the Orioles against KC was the bats went cold

    • Bmoreravens3

      May 30, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Game 1: Orioles compiled 6 runs. Tillman started gave up 5 runs over 4.1 innings. Orioles bats kept them in it before Britton & O’day blew it in the 10th
      Game 2: orioles scored 4. Bud Norris gave up 4 runs over 4.1 innings. Britton & O’day blew the tie in the 9th.
      I do agree the Last two games we lost 2-1 with some solid starting pitching from Wei-Yen Chen and Miguel Gonzalez. Imagine if we could’ve set the tone in the 1st two games with some dominant starting pitching.

    • Bmoreravens3

      May 30, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      Also what cost us in game 4 (besides the bass not contributing) was Caleb Joseph’s costly error.

  6. ButchBird59

    May 27, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Good news and bad news in the minors.
    Good news: Zac Lowther had another nice outing for Bowie yesterday. Him along with Akin in AAA, and Hall, Rodriguez, etc. in the low minors are giving me some hope in the area of starters/middle men.
    Bad news: My admittedly amateur scouting eyes don’t see anything even remotely resembling a closer in the high, medium, or low minors. Even if Givens were having a stellar year, trading him would be opening one big hole to close a bunch of other holes.
    Hopefully, there will be somebody in the draft who can throw sinkers/sliders for the future.
    In the meantime, I agree with Boog, they should be preparing to pay Mancini not, trade him.

    • ButchBird59

      May 27, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      An addendum on Zac Lowther from Shlomo Sprung at MiLB.com:

      Orioles LHP Zac Lowther, Double-A Bowie: 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K — Baltimore’s No. 8 prospect didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning in the Baysox’s 3-0 loss to Erie. Lowther lowered his ERA to 1.68, placing him third in the Eastern League innings. The 23-year-old southpaw hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last three starts, a span of 22 2/3 innings.

  7. DevoTion

    May 27, 2019 at 11:14 am

    I’m still not understanding why they keep trading international signing money. Last season we traded for money, now we’re trading away the money. Did we ever get any players for last year’s money? It seems like it would be better to keep it and hopefully bring in some talent that way. I guess they know what they are doing

    • ClayDal

      May 27, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Their is no money. We didn’t send money to the Mets for Broxton, just allowed the Mets to spend more of their money for international signings. Same with Smith Jr and the Jays. As Rich has said it’s just a way for a team to say “ we didn’t just give him away “ when they really did. Like the proverbial “player to be named later”. Just a way to save face

  8. Bhoffman1

    May 27, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    This thinking of trading Mancini is purely idiotic. What are we the Miami Marlins. You build around him. We have enough outfield talent in the minors and if Mason McCoy continues and Mountcastle gets better at 3B we have infield talent. We need pitching but you don’t just unload everybody for prospects. Again we are not the Marlins. BTW no mentions that Yastrzemski was called up by the Giants after hitting I think 12 homers in triple A. Plus no one talks about Diaz injury. He has been out a month already with what a mild calf strain

    • CalsPals

      May 27, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Totally agree, you can’t trade away what is arguably the face of the O’s, brass needs to at least TRY winning games…they’ll still probably have the top pick next ur as well, hopefully they pick Adley….

    • ClayDal

      May 27, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      The sad irony is that the Davis contract could cause the Birds to trade Mancini. Trey’s 3 years of arbitration start next year and coincides with the last 3 years of Davis’s contract. With Mountcastle and Stewart coming on they can give you Trey production for a low price. And before you say just release Chris Davis, you can release him now and you are still on the hook for his contract. It’s ironic that sometimes in order to ease the pain of a bad contract, you trade a good contract instead. Maybe the Orioles can sign Trey to a 6 year deal heavily backloaded with a lot of deferred money ( an Angelos speciality) for the first 3 years. Trey makes less for the first 3 years and makes up for it the last 3. Maybe Trey ( and his agent) will go for that

      • Trey Irwin41

        May 28, 2019 at 7:51 am

        I don’t understand why you want to sign Trey to six more years. We know Trey’s only value is his bat, he can’t play anywhere on the field. So all that has to happen is his bat drops a little bit and we’re left with a new Chris Davis. I like Trey, but I don’t think it’s not smart to sign a guy like him to a long-term deal. Too many risks. Also, in a rebuild, we don’t know who could be playing first base in four years. It seems dumb to block that position with Mancini.

    • Camden Brooks

      May 27, 2019 at 7:33 pm

      Agreed. For the younger players to max out their improvement, they need to be put in competitive situations on a regular basis. Being surrounded by zero talent and getting blown out every night helps no one.

    • ClayDal

      May 28, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      That was only a suggestion IF the Orioles wanted to make a commitment to Trey. The idea would be to get Trey to take a discount on the first 3 years (coinciding with the Davis contract) and making up that money in the last 3 years. Be nowhere near Davis numbers more like Nick Marsalis-6 yrs 66 million neighborhood. Don’t know if either side would be interested. My main point was that the Davis contract could ultimately cause the Orioles to make a decision with Trey that they would prefer not to make

    • ClayDal

      May 28, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      By the way I typed in Markakis. Auto correct must not be an Orioles fan.

  9. CalsPals

    May 27, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    This yr….sorry

  10. willmiranda

    May 28, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    The “tried and true” part of the method is not about getting rid of players but about getting better players. The key is being able to identify and develop talent. Homegrown has to be the bulk of this because you can acquire the most players and control their training. Trades are an important complement for specific needs. When you trade for a major leaguer, you have a fair idea of his big league ability. When you trade for “prospects,” you are trading for minor leaguers that another organization doesn’t need. What I’m saying is that the constant trading of major leaguers leads quickly to diminishing returns; thus, the major leaguers we traded last year had better trade value than the players this year. If we trade our “best” players this year, next year’s will be even worse. A successful rebuild involves not only recognizing new talent but also recognizing present talent, players capable of contributing to a winning team, not necessarily players to build around.

  11. woody

    May 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Trade Mancini. It’s an absolutely no-brainer given he’s ultimately a 1B and O’s are saddled with Davis + Trumbo. Not sure that anyone other than O’s would even try him in the outfield. Geez we need to be free-ing up 1B to cope with the likes of Nunez etc that we need to find a spot for.

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