BALTIMORE—Mike Elias was uncertain whether he’d be able to make a deal in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s trade deadline. In the end, he couldn’t. But he doesn’t sound disappointed.
“I think there were some moments where it looked like something might happen,” the Orioles’ general manager said Thursday night.
“We didn’t get close in the sense of exchanging medical files or anything like that. I’ve seen closer calls than what we had, but we were extremely active both in terms of our preparation but also the levels of communication, but just did not end up pulling the trigger on anything we felt was the right thing to do.
“Our goal is to raise the talent level up and down the organization and that includes players who are on the major league team, and the trades that were available to us, I didn’t feel like they were going to do that. I thought they might actually lower the talent level because these are guys we have under control.”
Elias pointed out that there aren’t any players on the 25- or 40-man rosters who are pending free agents. Mark Trumbo, who’s on the 60-day injured list, is the only player in the organization who fits into that category.
“It makes for a much different calculus when you’re talking about trading those guys than when you’re looking at a situation we had with Andrew Cashner, who was not going to be here next year. We didn’t have anything in front of us that we felt was right in terms of the right time to move players that we like or just not enough coming back for the guys we have.”
Two players mentioned in trade speculation were reliever Mychal Givens, who has two more years of club control after this one, and infielder Jonathan Villar, who can be a free agent after 2020. Elias could revisit the deals in the offseason.
“We weren’t feeling pressure to move anyone right now because, as I’ve said, these guys that we have on the team are under control,” Elias said. “In terms of, we are rebuilding and we’re kind of at the beginning stage of that process, so any time that we can take present value and convert it to future value, especially if it is more future value, yeah, it’s going be attractive to us. And we just never felt like we go to that point in the equation.”
“…We like these players. They’re here. They’re young, too. And having them around is great. I value these guys and we’re not going to just trade them just to trade them and say we traded guys and got a couple of names if we didn’t really believe in the names … if our scouting department didn’t believe in them.
“That can be kind of a quick high to get somebody who’s No 17 on the MLB.com list, but if you don’t really believe that it’s for real, it’s not the right move. So, we’re going to value these guys properly and do the right thing by the organization.”
After the Orioles signed their first two draft picks, catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson in late June, Elias said that he was disappointed in the team’s won-lost record. Since then, the team produced its first non-losing month since August 2017.
“I’m thrilled about the fact that we had a .500 July and how well the team played on the West Coast trip and the whole month,” Elias said. “That was great to see. Do I think that means, ‘Hey, this is at least a .500 team going forward? No, I don’t think that we’re there.
“But it’s nice to see those flashes. I like it better when we win than when we lose. And we want the record to be as good as possible. But I can’t stand here and announce that because of one good month we’ve turned the corner and we’re ready to be on the up and up.
“But the good thing is the talent is showing up, That’s the main goal right now and to see an Anthony Santander maybe start to establish himself as he has been. To see some of these guys really cement themselves in the major leagues, that’s the important thing and I think that the wins were flowing from that this month.”
One of the names who reportedly interested other teams was Trey Mancini. While he wasn’t traded, Elias didn’t sound eager to explore an extension for him.
“I don’t think anything has changed,” Elias said. “We kind of talked about this topic prior to the season, and spoken to it a little bit in the media. We like him. I hope he’s here for a long time. I’ve said that for a while, and he’s more than you can ask for in the clubhouse. He’s having a terrific season, and he’s our best player, so we like having him here.
“I still feel like this is my first year. As Brandon [Hyde] said, we’re in an inventory-taking stage. I think we’re at the beginning part of a new era of baseball here. Looking at contract extensions is just not at the forefront of my plate right now, but certainly he’s an attractive guy to have here for a while.”
A month from now, teams can expand their rosters to 40 players. Pitcher Keegan Akin, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and outfielders Austin Hays and DJ Stewart are players who could be considered.
“We haven’t sat down and had those planning discussions, the front office, Brandon Hyde, the staff,” Elias said. “I do imagine on the pitching side, having some extra arms around will certainly be a positive as you get that late into the season. Then we’ll look for areas to bolster, but everything is going to be a development decision so if it’s the right thing to do for the kid, we’ll do it. If we feel like it’s not the right thing to do for him, we’ll wait.”