As the All-Star break approaches the Baltimore Orioles find themselves with the worst record in baseball. They are more than 30 games out of first place. Their worst player is locked into a contract that owes him $23 million a year for the next 4 seasons. Their best player is set to walk at the end of the year. All of their decision makers could also walk at the end of the year. Uncertainty surrounds the future of the club. Frankly, the organization is a mess. They are in desperate need of a reboot.
In all reality, they should’ve begun the reboot at this time a year ago. But at the time the brass thought they could put band aids on flesh wounds and keep the team on the fringes of contention. That illusion has clearly evaporated and it’s time for the team to face the harsh reality of its current situation. They are a last place team in a division with two superpowers, have a middle of the road farm system, and are about to lose much of their talent to free agency. Names such as Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones, Danny Valencia and Brad Brach should be moved by the end of the month. The team should also consider moving some of their controllable players as well, and start a complete rebuild.
So let’s start the hypothetical rebuild. The first player out the door has to be Manny Machado. He is a top 5 talent in the Majors and will make a huge impact for a contender. Many teams have been rumored to have shown an interest in Machado, including the Phillies, Braves, Dodgers, Brewers, Indians and Diamondbacks.
Again completely hypothetical, but the Orioles have recently been reported to have shown interest in May. Smith is a versatile catching prospect who is having a great season in AA. He would be a good compliment to current young Orioles catcher Chance Sisco. Starling Heredia is a once heralded prospect who is struggling mightily this season. A perfect throw-in in this imaginary deal. The O’s are hoping for more, but they have passed the point where they are going to get maximum value for Machado.
The Orioles blew this one. And that’s not a hypothetical statement. They could have gotten much more for Britton at last year’s trade deadline. A reported deal with the Astros was inexplicably squashed at the last minute. Now they are stuck in a situation where they might only be able to squeeze out a lottery ticket infielder and an adequate, but unspectacular, pitching prospect. Britton needs to find some consistency in July, and show that he is healthy, in order to bring back even this much volume.
In order for this to work Jones would have to waive his 10-and-5 rights. But he may chose to do so in order to play for a contender again. Jones is a competitive player who thrives under pressure. Fabian is a free swinger but has lots of potential.
Valencia is quietly having a productive season. He has always been known as a lefty masher with a suspect glove. But this season he has handled right-handed pitching better than he has in the past and has not looked lost in the field. He has filled in at third and made a few starts in the outfield. He would help a National League team as a pinch hitter or platoon option. Patterson is blocked by the Rockies outfield depth but would be given a chance to prove himself in a revamped Orioles roster.
While it’s fun to think about imaginary trades, if the Orioles really want to reboot, they need to go all in and trade off controllable arms like Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Mychal Givens. If they can find a taker for Mark Trumbo he should be shopped as well. This is a roster that has proven that it is incapable of competing in the near term and will have significant difficulties winning long term as well. They need an infusion of young talent via trade, high draft choices, and an increased focus on the International amateur market.
The future seems bleak for the Birds. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a long process. Reboots are not easy. The Orioles need to commit to a long term overhaul of how they operate. Sometimes you have to change the way you act, think, and do business in order to see radical improvements.
Featured image of Manny Machado – via Bryan Green on Flickr