Let’s play a little game involving the current Orioles’ 26-man roster. Let’s call it short term, long term.

Since Mike Elias came to the Orioles and began the first-ever true full rebuild in franchise history, he has done a bit of sleight of hand with the pretty putrid roster he inherited.

Before we start, let’s remember one thing. Leading up to the 2018 trade deadline, Dan Duquette embarked upon the first steps in what the club was planning. In short order, Duquette traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers, Zack Britton to the Yankees, Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers and Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Braves. Duquette had a deal in place with the Phillies for Adam Jones, only Jones was a 10-and-5 guy. He had the right to veto the deal and he did.

In each of those deals, Duquette’s goals were to cut payroll and attempt to gather as many prospects as he could. Clearly, the emphasis was more aimed at paring down the club’s payroll for 2019 and beyond.

Duquette’s hands had been tied by ownership, which wouldn’t allow Machado and Britton to be dealt at the 2017 deadline when they would have still have had premium value. What Duquette received for Machado and Britton is what you get when players only have two months of club control remaining.

The deal of Gausman and O’Day to the Braves was a pure salary dump. The only thing the O’s received of any value was lefty Bruce Zimmermann, currently on another trip back to Triple-A to ready himself for another chance at the big league level.

The fun really began when Elias arrived. He turned every piece of talent who was deemed by him as a short-term piece into established prospects and lottery tickets. Gone were Richard Bleier, Andrew Cashner, Miguel Castro, Alex Cobb, Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias, Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser. Clearly, all of those guys were deemed short term.

Now that Elias has declared the heavy lifting done, he is ready for the next round, a more complicated one of short term, long term.

Remember to think along with your head, not your heart.

Catcher

Adley Rutschman is the long-term cornerstone of the franchise. Robinson Chirinos is clearly a short-term backup, but that could keep him around for another year or two. He’s smart, a great teammate and has helped this pitching staff immensely.

First Base

Ryan Mountcastle has four years of club control remaining beyond 2022, but I am not optimistic that the O’s will pay what’s necessary to lock down Trey Mancini. Where could Mancini go at the deadline? Look to the National League. Buck Showalter knows him and would love to have that bat at Citi Field. The Braves are not getting much from Adam Duvall this year, so Mancini fits in Atlanta. Don’t rule out a deal to San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Second Base

Rougned Odor is a short-term fix at second, but I have to admit that I have loved him on this team and I have gained a new level of respect for him.

Shortstop

I am not sure the club itself knows if Jorge Mateo is the future at shortstop or not. He clearly has some tools scouts love. He doesn’t have a great hit tool, but as a defender at shortstop he has been a play-of-the-night reel. He runs like the wind. My guess is that he is here the next two or three years in some sort of utility role once the big boys are ready,

Third Base

Tyler Nevin has the bloodlines. He is a battler at the plate and is developing better discipline on an at-bat to at-bat basis, but he helps pitchers out a little too much for my liking. Too soon to say.

Extra Infielders

I like what I’ve seen out of Richie Martin in his brief stint back in the bigs. Again, you aren’t ever going to have 26 studs. You have to have some inexpensive players who can help you in a multitude of ways. I won’t call him a long-term piece, but I think he could stick for a few years as a Johnny-on-the-spot type.

Ramon Urias has been a nice find, but with the level of talent on the way in Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and Terrin Vavra, I don’t see how he sticks. If you like Urias, is he worth keeping around for 75-80 games? Durability is a problem.

Outfield

Austin Hays is looking more and more like a long-term player who has gotten over the initial hump and made many of the necessary adjustments. He’s a big-time defender. Because he hasn’t gotten hurt, he’s been a revelation.

I think 2021 made for an amazing story, but Cedric Mullins’ regression in 2022 can’t be a huge surprise. His throwing arm has now been fully exposed, and the smart teams like Tampa Bay and Toronto take extra bases at will. Jim Bowden of The Athletic opened my eyes recently. If the Orioles can find a team that looks at the glass half full, maybe they get a couple of pitching prospects in return for Mullins. I think this is one to keep an eye on.

I think the club can get one decent pitching prospect for Anthony Santander and maybe some international signing money. He’s having a decent year … but this is kind of what you get with him. He’s a mixed bag for me.

I have to give Brandon Hyde props for playing Ryan McKenna through the jitters and developing him on the fly. I’m not comparing him to Mike Yastrzemski, but for an organization that never could give Yaz a look, they have made sure to give McKenna enough rope to have shown enough to stick as an extra outfielder. McKenna is an excellent defender and a good baserunner. In time, he may get a bit better than average at the dish.

Next week, I’ll break down the pitching staff.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Stan Charles

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