With the manner in which the season has started, many fans are screaming for the Baltimore Orioles to sell. Before I go any further, let me remind you that it’s only the end of April. Granted things have started out as poorly as they could for this team (regarding things that are both controllable and non-controllable), however it’s only April. Even teams that ultimately sell aren’t about to do it now, because it sends a horrible message to you the fans.
But let’s say that the Orioles go ahead and break up the band at some point closer to the deadline. It would be a given that the likes of Manny Machado would be in play. In fact, he’d probably be the guy on whom the Birds would be most focused in terms of moving. You might even move someone like Adam Jones, who’s contract is up at the end of the season. (That sounds tough to hear for sure; but mind you that the O’s could re-acquire Jones as a free agent if there was a mutual interest. And I think there would be.) Anyone else?
How about Dylan Bundy? Or Kevin Gausman? Not to mention Jonathan Schoop…?) Those names might sound more surprising than throwing Jones’ name out there. Of the “youngish” players the Orioles have, those are the most promising for sure. One would think that it would behoove the Orioles to keep them if in fact they decide to sell. Keep them and build around them, right?
In a perfect world, yes. But in the ever-changing landscape of sports and the world, sometimes apparently we have to think outside the box. As I said, those three names are probably the guys who have the most value to the Orioles moving forward. So…would they not have value also on the trade block?
Point being, I suspect that they’d give the Orioles the most bang for their buck in terms of a return haul. Machado or Jones are potentially half-season rentals for a team. Now they’ll still probably bring big league-ready talent in the form of a young minor leaguer. You aren’t going to trade one or both of them for a single-A prospect, which is a step away from a bag of balls.
But the likes of Gausman, Schoop, or Bundy are under team control going into the 2019 season. That makes them more than a half-season rental. And when it comes to trades, that makes one heck of a difference.
I’m not advocating that this takes place. It would leave one heck of a hole in the franchise, and in the immediacy of today it would leave one heck of a hole in the starting rotation and lineup. Furthermore, teams generally like to get pitching in return for a superstar player. So would it make that much sense to sell pitching and get pitching in return?
Again, the point is that selling off some or even all of the aforementioned players would probably bring lots of major league-ready talent in return. And potentially re-stock the Orioles’ farm system as well. But I maintain that all of these decisions come back to one man: Buck Showalter.
Regardless of what we’re seeing on the field now, next year’s managing job is Buck’s if he wants it. I think that John and Lou Angelos (and Peter) would re-sign him now to some sort of extension if he said he wanted to remain in the dugout. And if that were to be the case, he would have a significant say in how the roster shapes up.
In saying that, he’ll probably want some sort of continuity. Now on the flip side, if Buck decides to hang ’em up (or move to the front office, which is also an option I think the Angelos’ would offer him), then I see the Orioles going with a much younger manager next season. Probably a guy who’s been a bench coach for awhile and who the industry feels is ready to take the plunge and become a manager.
And if that ends up being the case, then perhaps they do in fact decide to sell off more pieces – so as to allow that guy (whomever he ends up being) to start from scratch. Young team, young manager. And here’s the other thing folks; I say that as someone who doesn’t put much faith in youth. I’d just as soon as not deal with the brashness and inexperience of youth, as opposed to the steady hand of experience – such as Buck, such as Adam Jones, et al. But going the youth route makes sense, if Buck isn’t the manager next year. Time will tell.