To state that the Baltimore Orioles figure to be deadline sellers would be an understatement. At 27-61, the Orioles are likely on a fast-track to the #1 overall pick in the 2020 Rule Four draft, and it’s no secret that teams at such a juncture are often the most eager to unload veteran assets for pieces that more neatly fit within the next contention window.
Of course, a bigger issue for a team like the Orioles is what, if any, pieces are on hand that would attract serious attention from clubs in search of improvement. After trading star third baseman Manny Machado at last year’s deadline, Baltimore’s Opening Day lineup this season consisted mostly of lightly regarded journeymen and faded former standouts like Jonathan Villar and Chris Davis. One member of that Opening Day lineup, however, has begun to generate serious trade interest in advance of the July 31st trade deadline, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).
After a 2018 season that saw him regress to below-average league offensive levels (93 wRC+), outfielder Trey Mancini has reasserted himself this year as a high-caliber big league bat. From an offensive standpoint, Mancini’s .297 /.354 /.528 slash line (130 wRC+) would seem to represent a marked improvement over the outfield options of many clubs, even if defensive metrics continue to dog the 27-year-old’s performance on the grass. At worst, Mancini would seem to profile as a cheap, controllable DH option for an acquiring AL club.
Rosenthal does point out, however, that such cheap control could actually prove to be an impediment to a potential trade. Mancini, who will carry an arbitration figure for the first time next season, is currently making the league minimum, and–as a productive and recognizable Orioles player–he could be considered more valuable to the O’s franchise than to any other club. It may be just as reasonable, based on that viewpoint, to speculate the Orioles could play the wait-and-see game on Mancini’s market – perhaps with an eye on an offseason deal.