Amidst a nine-game winning streak, the Orioles currently find themselves only two games out of a wildcard spot. This puts them in unfamiliar territory heading into the deadline and makes things interesting for the team.
Buyers or Sellers?
When it comes to buying or selling, the Orioles should consider a little bit of both. Instead of either unloading the farm or shipping all of their MLB talent out, the Orioles need to find a middle ground. The team is currently facing the opportunity to ship away a few short-term pieces while also adding long-term help. This means trading players who are free agents at the end of this year, or possibly even next, and adding those who are controllable for years to come. By doing this, the Orioles should have the opportunity to remain competitive for the rest of the season, while also giving themselves a shot to be serious contenders within the next few years.
Who to Trade Away?
Orioles fans might not like this one, but it seems the time is right to trade away Trey Mancini. As a free agent at the end of the year, Mancini’s time with Baltimore is coming to a close, and the best thing for the Orioles to do would be to capitalize on that. With Ryan Mountcastle in the fold, the Orioles don’t have the need for a first baseman, and it seems much wiser to spend the money elsewhere, rather than on Mancini. There has already been some interest in Mancini, and collecting some longer-term pieces appears to be the best move here.
The team could also get some value out of Robinson Chirinos, Rougned Odor, and Jordan Lyles. Chirinos and Odor will be free agents at the end of the season, and the pieces Baltimore receives in return would likely help the team more than the players themselves, especially with Adley Rutchsman starting to figure things out at the MLB level. As for second base, the Orioles could look to Ramon Urias, who has put together a solid campaign so far this season. When it comes to Lyles, things get a little more tricky. Lyles does have an option for the 2023 season, however, there have been rumors that the option will not be picked up. Even though pitching is a need for the Orioles, trading Lyles this deadline may be the smartest move.
Who to Trade For?
The Orioles’ biggest need is starting pitching. The rotation has mostly consisted of Lyles, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer, Spenser Watkins, and Austin Voth, who has only gone five innings once this season. Kyle Bradish has also stepped in at times, however, he is currently on the 15-day IL. Ideally, the team would like to pick up 1-2 controllable starters at the deadline. We covered Frankie Montas, and Luis Castillo as the two players most likely to be dealt at the deadline, so the Orioles could check in there. As two young, controllable, cheap, and dominating starting pitchers, those two will have high price tags, and lots of competition, meaning the Orioles may want to get creative.
This could mean targeting Blake Snell. Reports indicate the Padres want more freedom from the luxury tax line, and with their surplus of starting pitching, moving Snell could help them do this while still allowing them to compete. Snell, a free agent in 2024, would give Baltimore the control they need in a pitcher and would allow them to stay competitive this season. As both teams find themselves in interesting situations, we could potentially see a rare MLB player for MLB player trade, if the two decide to center something around Snell and Mancini. Whether Baltimore uses Mancini in this trade or not, Blake Snell and other controllable starting pitchers need to be on their radar. With top prospects Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall close to the big leagues, Baltimore may also want to consider including current rotation members in these trades.
Additions for the Lineup
With the impending loss of Mancini and Odor, whether it comes to free agency or trade, Baltimore could also add some depth to the lineup. This could lead to checking in on Whit Merrifield. Merrifield’s home is second base, however, his ability to move around the diamond a bit, and experience in the outfield, should make him even more appealing to any team. Merrifield could slide in nicely at second, or the team could elect to move him around a bit, giving the lineup more flexibility and allowing other players to get days off. With team control through the 2024 season, Merrifield would give Baltimore the long-term control they need and allow them to take their time with some top prospects.
Whatever Baltimore ultimately decides to do, their current situation will force them to get creative. This is a very good time for the Orioles organization and its fans, and this deadline has the potential to be pivotal in the team’s success. The team has been accustomed to selling around this time of year, and it seems things are finally starting to shape up. It’ll be seen whether or not the team ends up claiming a wildcard spot, however, if they play their cards right, they could put themselves in a good situation to compete for years to come.
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