Orioles general manager Mike Elias fully understands the short-term pain the club must endure with the latest round of trades.
The ultimate goal is laying a sturdy foundation for long-term success.
However, there are still many variables that need to be sorted out with unknown players to fully assess the impact of these recent deals.
- Starting pitcher Tommy Milone was sent to the Atlanta Braves for two players to be named later.
- Reliever Mychal Givens was traded to the Colorado Rockies for a pair of infielders Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra, in addition to a player to be named later.
- Reliever Miguel Castro was dealt to the New York Mets for left-handed pitcher Kevin Smith and a player to be named later or cash.
- Last month, Elias also traded another reliever, Richard Bleier, to the Miami Marlins for … a player to be named later.
Elias appears to have a handle on those unknown players even though he’s not disclosing any of their potential identities. Only players in 60-man player pools can move at this time; those not in pools can’t be revealed yet.
“Those names will be named at the appropriate time,” Elias said. “Obviously, there are some strange restrictions in place this year. You’re seeing an uptick in player-to-be-named-later trades. I think you can draw your own conclusions about why, but I’m looking forward to naming those mystery players at some point and welcoming them into the organization.”
Overall, the moves were prudent for the long-term health of the rebuilding club. Life is rarely easy for a team that had 100-plus losses in each of the past two seasons.
There is also a sense of addition by subtraction for the Orioles. Some of the moves have created roster spots and a bigger opportunity for the younger players.
For example, left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin took Milone’s spot in the rotation, and he allowed two runs and three hits in 4.1 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in his first career start Aug. 31. Hunter Harvey returned from the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain and will resume his high-leverage role in the bullpen.
One of the club’s prospects, outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, has been a spark in the lineup and hit his first two major-league homers in a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays Aug. 20.
While the Orioles are sinking in the standings, there are bright spots for the future, Elias is confident the club is in the top 10 among all MLB teams with regards to minor-league talent.
“The good news for us is we’ve got young players on the way,” Elias said.” We’ve seen Mountcastle come up this year. We have young relievers who can step in for Mychal Givens.”
In addition, Elias likes the return the team received from the Rockies.
The Rockies selected Nevin, 23, in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft from Poway High School in California. He slashed .251/.345/.399 with 13 homers and six stolen bases in 130 games for Double-A Harford last year. Elias said Nevin “controls the strike zone really well, he’s got a real pretty swing.”
Vavra was taken by the Rockies in the third round of the 2018 draft from the University of Minnesota. He slashed .318/.409/.489 with 10 homers and 18 stolen bases in 102 games for Low-A Asheville in 2019. Vavra can play second base or shortstop.
Smith, 23, was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft from Georgia. He finished with 130 strikeouts in 117 combined innings at the Mets’ High-A and Double-A affiliates last season.
Despite the trades, the Orioles have not given up on the season. At this point, they are a long shot to make the playoffs, but Elias commended their effort throughout the year. Elias also complemented manager Brandon Hyde for his ability to make the proper adjustments in such a tumultuous year.
The Orioles snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory against Toronto in 11 innings Aug. 31. They are 15-19 and in fourth place of the AL East, three games ahead of the last-place Boston Red Sox.
“Brandon and his staff have done such a job with that team all year and these guys know,” Elias said. “We’ve been very consistent about preaching the opportunity that’s here, and for a couple of players like this who are in their 30s, they know that this is part of the business. It’s something that might be coming, and these younger guys here are trying to establish themselves as long-term Orioles. They’ve got a lot of runway left in terms of their time here. So I hope they’ll keep pushing.”
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