Sixteen games into the season, the Orioles are 9-7, good for third place in the American League East. Most fans and experts did not predict the Orioles would have a winning record a quarter of the way through the season, but the club currently finds itself in the playoff hunt.
But despite some early success, ESPN MLB analyst Eduardo Perez believes the Orioles should consider offers for most of the players on their roster ahead of the Aug. 31 trade deadline. He says general manager Mike Elias and assistant GM Sig Mejdal are aware of what to focus on.
“These are guys that understand you have to build a foundation first,” Perez said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 12. “They’re going to look at the 60-game season; they’re not going to sacrifice any part of the future [by] trading big pieces of what is going to keep them sustainable for years to come in the AL East.”
Perez spent 13 seasons in the major leagues with six teams. He spent four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and three each with the Cincinnati Reds and California Angels. He hit .247/.326/.431 in his career with 79 home runs and 294 RBIs in 1,800 at-bats. He began his professional career as a first-round pick in 1991 by the Angels out of Florida State.
Perez mentioned two veteran pitchers in particular whom he believes the Orioles should consider trading: right-handers Alex Cobb and Mychal Givens. Cobb is in his third season in Baltimore and has a 2.75 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19.2 innings this year. Givens is in Year 6 as an Oriole and has only allowed four hits in 6.0 innings with eight strikeouts.
“With so many arms going down [with injuries] there are teams that know it’s not just about getting in, it’s about being able to compete and having that second arm,” Perez said. “… Alex Cobb would be at a premium. I think Mychal Givens would be another guy I think should be at a premium for the Orioles.”
Perez said that the Orioles should keep lefty John Means, who is currently on the injured list as he undergoes COVID-19 testing after returning from the bereavement list. He’d also prefer to hold on to outfielder Austin Hays, but Perez says the Orioles should otherwise be open to deals.
“I would still keep [Means] because he’s young. I think he’ll be a big part of the success of the Baltimore Orioles in the near future,” Perez said. “Offensively, you have to entertain anyone else that they call [about]. I don’t think there’s one person that would be out of the conversation that you’re like, ‘He’s untouchable.'”
Entering the season, the Orioles were set to face one of the toughest schedules in baseball, but aside from being swept in a four-game series by the Miami Marlins, Baltimore has found some success.
Baltimore leads the AL in batting average at .261, and Perez has been impressed with the club’s offensive performance. Hanser Alberto is hitting .342 and has 25 hits. Renato Núñez is slugging .635 and has five home runs. Rio Ruiz has four home runs and nine RBIs.
“You continue to see guys that are doing a heck of a job on the offensive standpoint, and in the Orioles’ case, scoring so many runs in the last few games,” Perez said. “It’s really cool to see the Orioles competing even in a 60-game season.”
While Perez has been surprised with the team’s offensive production, he believes it could quickly become harder for Baltimore to keep it up since opponents now know what to expect. Later this month, the Orioles face the Boston Red Sox four times and Tampa Bay Rays three times. Baltimore took two out of three in Boston to open the season and swept the Rays in a three-game series.
“If we’re looking at a 15-game sample in a 162-game season I still think the Baltimore Orioles would struggle, especially in the second half. You have teams that will figure you out in a hurry,” Perez said. “I’m wondering how teams that are going to face the Orioles for the second time around will approach their younger players. Will the coaching staff be able to help them along?”
A new rule was introduced this season in order to expedite the ending of extra-inning games. A runner is placed on second to begin the 10th inning, though the pitcher is credited with an unearned run if that scores. The rule has sparked some debate among fans, but Perez is supportive of the rule and wouldn’t mind it becoming permanent.
The Orioles have won each of their extra-inning contests so far this year.
“I’m on board. I think it makes the pace of action move quicker it’s more interesting,” Perez said. “… I grew up watching old school baseball. My dad is as old school as it gets, and he was like ‘This is fun.’ Look at the strategy. Are they going to bunt? Are they going to move the runner over? Who’s hitting in the bottom half of the inning for the opposing team? How are you going to manage the team?”
All statistics are entering play Aug. 13.
For more from Perez, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox