SAN DIEGO—Mike Elias says that he doesn’t have any other trades near completion. Last week, the Orioles’ general manager traded infielder Jonathan Villar to Miami and starting pitcher Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels. His net was five pitching prospects.
On Monday, Elias began talking with teams about his veteran players, presumably reliever Mychal Givens and first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini.
“We have ongoing conversations on trade and free agent fronts,” Elias said. “I would characterize all of those as pretty basic and preliminary at this point.”
Givens, who has two years of club control remaining, could be the next to be moved. In 2019, he was used as the primary closer, a role in which he didn’t thrive. He had a 2-6 record, a 4.57 ERA and eight blown saves in 19 chances.
Manager Brandon Hyde also used Givens in roles other than closer, and he pitched better in those situations. If he’s traded, it’s assumed an acquiring team would use him in a setup role rather than a closer.
In his career, Givens has a 4.40 ERA in save situations and a 2.85 ERA in non-save situations.
“He’s our best relief pitcher,” Elias said. “So, however, Brandon or we wanted to play that on a given night, I think it depends on your philosophies and where you are in the lineup and leverage index and all of that fancy stuff.
“But he’s our best, most trusted relief arm and whether that lands him in the closer’s role for us or if he’s somebody that comes in and gets (Giancarlo) Stanton or (Aaron) Judge in the seventh or eighth inning, as he has done before, that’s a nightly decision.”
Because Givens isn’t strictly viewed as a closer, could it affect his value?
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Elias said. “People are very aware of his strikeout rates and the quality of his stuff and his body of work over years with the Orioles teams both good and bad of the last four or five years.
“I do think that other teams, if I were in their shoes, you look at the amount that he has to shoulder in our bullpen relative to one where there are a lot of other helping hands it’s something to consider. But I think mostly people when they’re evaluating Mike, it’s the same thing that we all see, the punchout stuff, the electric arm, the athleticism, and regardless of the role that he’s in, you know that he’s a plus reliever.”
Elias said that most of the talk has been from other clubs interested in Orioles.
“Most of the trade discussions are centered around people seeking our veterans,” Elias said. “And us talking about prospects or young players in return. That said, we have inquired on middle infield options and pitching options that can help us stabilized the roster for 2020. It’s difficult to line up on that when you’re a rebuilding team and you’re not really in the mood to expend prospect capital. It just takes a lot of dialogue.”
Elias isn’t guaranteeing a deal or signing by time the meetings end.
“I think we’ll make progress toward that,” Elias said. “But it’s such a tight timeline and even when an agreement’s reached there’s a physical exam involved and it’s hard to cram all that into a Monday-to-Thursday schedule. But I do think we’re going to make a lot of progress toward our pursuits in those areas.”
Looking ahead to Rule 5: The Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday with the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles have made a choice in each Rule 5 draft since 2006, the longest streak in baseball. In each of the last three years, they’ve chosen multiple players.
Two of the seven players they’ve chosen, outfielder Anthony Santander and shortstop Richie Martin, are still with the organization.
The Orioles have the second pick in the draft and, with the waiver claim of pitcher Marcos Diplan, have 38 players on the 40-man roster. It’s possible they again choose two players.
Not Elias’ first rodeo: At last year’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Elias, who had been the GM for less than a month, was busy hiring a manager. This year, it’s been a smoother process.
“The one thing that’s nice for me this year versus a year ago,” Elias said, “is I have not just an academic understanding of [his players] … not just their trade value, but their value to us and their skill levels.
“I’ve kind of lived it for a year and know what types of conversations have taken place surrounding these players last year at this time, trade deadline and this winter. I have a lot more comfort for what that is.
“Sometimes, all of a sudden, somebody jumps up and gets super interested in a player … you never know when that’s going to happen. That could happen this week. It could be later on.”