The Indians have shown interest in Orioles position players Manny Machado and Adam Jones leading up to this month’s non-waiver trade deadline. Orioles reliever Mychal Givens has also landed on the Indians’ radar, as Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets that the two teams “have discussed” the right-hander.
With Cleveland a near-lock to win the AL Central, it’s likely going to have to upgrade its bullpen in order to make some noise in the playoffs. While the Indians have been successful on the whole, their relievers rank last in the majors in ERA (5.39) and second last in fWAR (minus-1.2). Moreover, with both injured setup man Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen set to hit free agency after the season, the Indians’ bullpen may be a major point of emphasis over the winter.
Acquiring Givens could give the Indians an immediate upgrade and a long-term solution in one fell swoop. The 28-year-old has been an effective reliever since debuting in 2015, and he’s controllable via arbitration through 2021. However, Givens – like the Indians’ relievers – has had difficulty preventing runs this year, having run up a 4.40 ERA in 47 innings after combining for a 2.75 mark in 183 1/3 frames from 2015-17. He’s also walking a career-worst 4.4 batters per nine, up from 3.29 over the previous three years, and has never generated many ground balls (38.7 percent).
To the hard-throwing Givens’ credit, he has collected 10.53 strikeouts per nine this year (close to his 10.82 career figure) and logged a 2.73 FIP. Givens has also encountered some poor fortune in 2018, it seems, as his batting average on balls in play (.347) is well above the .279 mark hitters posted against him from 2015-17. That bloated BABIP has hardly come as a result of hitters scorching the ball against Givens. To the contrary, he ranks 18th in the majors in average exit velocity against (85.6 mph) and has put up a .286 xwOBA against, beating out the .301 real wOBA hitters have recorded when facing him.
Not only does Givens continue to look like a quality reliever, then, but with the O’s way out of contention, he’s a logical trade candidate. However, it’s far from certain Givens will leave Baltimore in the coming weeks. In fact, the Orioles are “extremely reluctant” to trade Givens, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.