The trade deadline is more than a month away, and we don’t know how active the Orioles will be. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has been active on the trade front in the past, and he’s expected to be in the coming weeks.
Twenty percent of the Orioles’ 40-man roster, eight players, have been acquired in trades made by Elias.
Let’s take a look at his best, the overlooked and some forgotten in his five seasons.
Best trade: The Orioles traded their All-Star closer, Jorgé López, at the top of the market last August 2nd. López had 19 saves, a 1.68 ERA and a 0.972 WHIP at the time of his trade to the Minnesota Twins.
In his time with Minnesota, López, who is on the 15-day injured list because of mental health issues, is 2-3 with a 4.71 ERA and 19 saves.
Not only was Elias able to extract Yennier Cano, who has been a revelation as a setup man from the Twins, but he got three other pitchers — left-handed prospect Cade Povich, who was just promoted from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk; right-hander Juan Nunez, also just promoted, from Single-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen; and left-hander Juan Rojas, who has yet to pitch this season.
Povich is the 11th-ranked Orioles prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Most overlooked good trade: Whenever the Orioles acquire a player for “cash considerations,” there are plenty of jokes about it. On January 3rd, the Orioles purchased Ryan O’Hearn’s contract and designated him for assignment.
Fortunately, the first baseman/outfielder wasn’t claimed, and along with Lewin Díaz, whose waiver claim forced him off the roster, Josh Lester and Franchy Cordero, O’Hearn went to spring training as a non-roster player.
None of the four made the roster at the end of spring training, but O’Hearn has made the most of his opportunity, filling in admirably at first base when Ryan Mountcastle went on the 10-day injured list with vertigo.
Trade with promise: The Orioles felt they needed to move Trey Mancini last August. He was nearing free agency, and while he was a valuable member of the team both on the field and in the clubhouse, they traded him to the Houston Astros in a three-way deal.
One of the pitchers they received, Seth Johnson, had Tommy John surgery right after the August 1st deal and probably won’t pitch this season. Another, Chayce McDermott, has been part of a no-hitter for Double-A Bowie.
Johnson, who is ranked 14th on the MLB Pipeline list of top Orioles prospects, is already on the 40-man roster, and McDermott is the 17th highest-rated prospect.
Trade that makes more sense now: Just before the end of spring training 2022, the Orioles sent two of their most veteran relievers, right-hander Cole Sulser and left-hander Tanner Scott, to the Miami Marlins for three minor leaguers — Kevin Guerrero, who’s at the Florida Complex League; reliever Yaqui Rivera, who has been effective for Delmarva; and disappointing right-hander Antonio Velez, who has struggled at both Bowie and Aberdeen.
Without Scott and Sulser, the Orioles suddenly had room on their Opening Day roster for two unproven relievers, Bryan Baker and Félix Bautista, and though Scott is having his best season in the majors, the Orioles are happy with the haul.
The Marlins also sent the Orioles their Competitive Round B pick, which they used to select outfielder Jud Fabian, who has just been promoted from Aberdeen to Bowie. Fabian is the Orioles’ 15th highest-rated prospect.
The haul for Bundy: When Elias decided to part ways with starting pitcher Dylan Bundy in December 2019, the Orioles received four pitchers — Kyle Bradish, Kyle Brnovich, Zach Peek and Isaac Mattson.
Brnovich and Peek both had Tommy John surgery last season. Mattson appeared in four games for the Orioles and just signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins.
Bradish has been a brilliant acquisition with a 3-3 record and 3.88 ERA in 13 starts.
Givens gone and now back: Relief pitcher Mychal Givens was traded in August 2020 to Colorado for infielders Tyler Nevin, who has moved on to Detroit; Terrin Vavra, currently on Norfolk’s injured list; and minor league outfielder Mishael Deson, who hasn’t played this season.
Still waiting: Elias’ first big trade came in July 2019 when he shipped right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner, who was having an outstanding first half, to the Boston Red Sox for two young Dominican Summer League prospects, Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero, who are at Delmarva.
In December 2019, infielder Jonathan Villar was dealt to Miami for reliever Easton Lucas, who has recently been promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Shortstop José Iglesias had just had his $3.5 million option picked up for the 2021 season and less than a month later, the Orioles traded him for pitchers Jean Pinto and Garrett Stallings.
Pinto is at Bowie, and Stallings was promoted to Norfolk on Saturday.
Reliever Miguel Castro was also traded in August 2020. His return from the New York Mets was left-handed starter Kevin Smith and minor league infielder Victor González, who’s with the Florida Complex League Orioles.
Smith, who was briefly on the 40-man roster, was released by the Orioles this spring.
Best forgotten: There have been some disappointing trades, too. Elias was eager to get out from the final year of starting pitcher Alex Cobb’s contract, and he traded the often-injured right-hander to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Jahmai Jones in 2021.
Jones hit .149 in 21 games for the Orioles, and the team still had to pay much of the final year of Cobb’s contract.