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Surprised the Orioles Were Quiet at the Trade Deadline? Don’t Be

Heading into yesterday’s trade deadline, the Baltimore Orioles, currently in last place in the AL East, were out of playoff contention as they continue on the grueling path that is a Major League Baseball rebuild. Typically, this means that each year at the deadline, the team would send many of its better players to contenders in return for minor league prospects, as has been the case for the past 3 seasons.

This year was different. Yes, Shawn Armstrong was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays and Freddy Galvis, currently on the injured list, is headed up I-95 to finish the season with the Philadelphia Phillies. The combined return for the two players was cash considerations and a pitcher who will be joining High-A Aberdeen. The team, with valuable assets like John Means, Cedric Mullins, and local favorite Trey Mancini, not to mention two left-handed relievers in Tanner Scott and Paul Fry, didn’t make a significant move; some may be confused by this.

There comes a point in every rebuild where it is no longer about tearing the Major League club apart to set the foundation in the minor leagues; Baltimore has completed that difficult task. At this point, each of those 5 notable players the Orioles could have considered trading are all under team control and have a real chance to be part of the next winning Orioles team. Those 5 valuable assets, Means, Mullins, Mancini, Fry and Scott, were not players that needed to be moved. Mancini is under team control through the 2022 season, Means, Fry and Scott through the 2024 season, and Mullins through 2025.

The two relievers would have been the most likely to be “on the block,” but with 3 more years, each, of control, there was no need to pull the trigger on a deal. Means is the ace of the rotation, likely to be leading the crop of young pitchers looking to join the team in upcoming seasons. Mullins, the team’s lone all-star in 2021, is a true building block at a premium position- he could very well be hitting leadoff and playing center field in the Orioles return to the Postseason.

Then there is Mancini- the team’s clubhouse leader, adored by the fans, and putting together another great season, all after missing the entirety of 2020 while recovering from stage 3 colon cancer. Some may say, that with only one year of control remaining, the prudent move would be to move on. That argument would hold more weight if it wasn’t this player, on this team, this year. Not only would moving Mancini now have been a PR nightmare, it would have taken the most significant presence away from the clubhouse. He is the lone connection to the Adam Jones led teams of years past. Leadership cannot be understated in this game, and when it comes from a player who is as productive as Mancini, you do whatever you can to keep them around. Heading into the offseason, GM Mike Elias’ top priority should be attempting to extend Mancini as he leads this organization back toward consistent success.

So yes, the Orioles had some players that likely had great value ahead of this deadline. They probably received calls on 3, 4, or even all 5 players, but sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make. The Orioles lack of moves at this deadline is far from a missed opportunity; it is a signal that they have found the core of players they will be building around into the future, the sole purpose of the entire rebuilding process.

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