Mychal Givens’ bottom-line numbers may have taken a step back in 2018, but the right-hander finished the season strong for the Orioles and will again be a possible trade chip this offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The front office tabbed Givens as nearly untouchable in trade talks this past summer under general manager Dan Duquette, but it’s not clear how the new Orioles’ top baseball ops decision-maker will perceive Givens’ availability. The 28-year-old Givens, controlled through 2021, averaged 95.1 mph on his heater, 9.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings this season en route to a 3.99 ERA. Relief help figures to be as in-demand as ever this offseason as teams continue to more aggressively deploy relievers and shy away from starters facing opposing lineups for a third time.
More out of the American League…
- Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun chats with rookie center fielder Cedric Mullins about being the first of the Orioles’ hopeful next wave of core pieces to arrive on the big league scene in 2018. Mullins, who turned 24 last week, enjoyed a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A before debuting with the O’s in August and hitting .235/.312/.359 in 191 plate appearances down the stretch. Considered by the Orioles as a potential long-term piece in the outfield, Mullins and Meoli discussed the young outfielder’s opportunity to emerge as a leader of the next wave of O’s talent and the type of speed-based offense he and Jonathan Villar can bring to the lineup. The O’s ranked last in the Majors in stolen bases each season from 2014-17, swiping a stunningly low 19 bases in 2017. Mullins, meanwhile, has a 30-steal season under his belt in the minors (2016) and stole 23 bases across three levels in 2018.
- Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire had his share of frustration regarding fundamental miscues in September, and he spoke to Evan Woodbery of MLive.com about the need to have players better prepared for the Majors upon arrival. Woodbery notes that a number of players specifically cited by Gardenhire — rookie infielders Dawel Lugo and Jeimer Candelario among them — were trade acquisitions and haven’t spent the bulk of their career in the Tigers farm. That said, Gardenhire made clear how strongly he, GM Al Avila and farm director Dave Littlefield feel about ingraining fundamentals into players at an early age. “That’s really important to make sure our people in the lower minor leagues are on top of this, our staff guys,” said Gardenhire. “Littlefield gets it. He knows it. Al has talked about it. Our people have to be better in the minor leagues. They have to pound it in or we’re going to find new people. He’s told me that. He’s made that clear.” Everything from running out ground-balls to hitting the cutoff man to proper execution on double plays will be a point of focus, per Gardenhire, who is quoted extensively in a piece that’s well worth a full look for Tigers fans.
- While some Athletics fans were hoping for a look at top pitching prospect Jesus Luardo late in the season, especially amid significant rotation injuries, the 21-year-old was kept in the minors as he worked a heavy slate of innings in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. General manager David Forst, though, expects Luzardo to be in the mix for a spot next season once he has a full winter of rest under his belt (link via Ben Ross of NBC Sports Bay Area). “I think Jesús is going to come into Spring Training and be a factor,” said Forst. “…He’s probably one of, if not the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game. So I expect he’ll come into Spring Training and be a factor for us.” Luzardo, who only turned 21 on Sept. 30, worked to a 2.88 ERA across three levels this season, though that mark was skewed a bit by four ugly starts in Triple-A late in the season that saw him yield 13 runs in 16 innings. The lefty blitzed through Class-A Advanced and Double-A despite facing much older competition and, even if he doesn’t make the team next spring, looks ticketed for Triple-A to open the year, making him a very plausible option to come up in the first half of the 2018 campaign.