This won’t light up the news wire, but it’s a savvy depth move for the Phils. Without the possibility of adding players on MLB deals in the month of August, options are limited for picking up needed gap-fillers. Straily was one of several players that fit into a narrow niche of readily stashable players, as we covered last week.
The Orioles have claimed infielder Jose Rondon off waivers from the White Sox, per a club announcement. The corresponding active roster move isn’t yet known, but someone will have to be moved off of the 25-man to make way for the out-of-options Rondon.
It seems possible that this move will connect to another, as-yet-unknown transaction. Rondon would be a possible roster replacement for several of the O’s trade candidates.
The 25-year-old Rondon has struggled quite a bit this year in Chicago, compiling an ugly .197/.265/.282 batting line in 156 trips to the plate. He fared better in a smaller sample last year, and did swat 18 long balls at Triple-A in 2018, but generally does not have an especially promising minor-league track record with the bat. Rondon comes with a reputation for quality glovework, though metrics haven’t been overly impressed to this point.
Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini hasn’t been a hot name in the run-up to the trade deadline, but MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that he’s coming up in late talks. The Astros, Rangers, and Rays are all said to have interest.
Mancini, 27, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time in the offseason to come. He’s off to an excellent start at the plate, putting a subpar 2018 season in the rearview mirror. Through 434 plate appearances, Mancini is slashing .280/.341/.532. He grabbed the 50th spot on our ranking of the top trade candidates based upon his evident talent and contractual upside.
For the O’s, nothing is bolted to the floor. But the Baltimore club surely isn’t in a rush to trade its best player, particularly since he’s a marketable figure at an organizational low point. Lovely as Camden Yards is standing alone, stars are needed to bring fans in and send merchandise out of the ballpark gates.
The slate of clubs with interest is itself both interesting and telling. It’s clear that Mancini isn’t a classic trade deadline piece, so much as a very good player with a great contract situation who is drawing teams that are interested in him from a talent standpoint. Roster fit and the situation in the standings are to some extent secondary considerations.
For the Astros, adding Mancini would mean putting another big bat into a lineup mix that’s already strewn with them. The priority in Houston is surely pitching. One wonders whether the connection is based upon some scenarios involving multiple other moving pieces.
The Rangers, meanwhile, are all but buried out of contention. But the team is looking to remain competitive and ramp right back up next year. Coming away with Mancini would mean adding a righty slugger to partner up with star Joey Gallo. The Texas org obviously wouldn’t be valuing Mancini for his late-2019 contributions, but for the three years of control thereafter.
It’s also a bit of an opportunistic possibility for the Rays, who have more immediate incentive than the Rangers but less than the Astros. The Tampa Bay club is always searching for value and has been connected to multiple righty outfield bats, so it isn’t surprising to see that they’ve propped open a door on Mancini. With loads of young talent, especially in the infield, it’s possible the Rays could come up with some creative packages in search of a match with their division rivals.
Chicago was tied to Eric Sogard before he was traded from Toronto to Tampa Bay, and Addison Russell’s recent demotion to Triple-A Iowa further illustrates that the Cubs could be in the mix for a second baseman. The potential return of Ben Zobrist, who is slated to head out on a minor league rehab assignment, could lessen any urgency to make an outside addition, though.
Villar has split the 2019 season between shortstop and second base in Baltimore, drawing negative reviews at second base from both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating a year after rating quite well in both categories. His familiarity with shortstop would also be a welcome addition for the Cubs, given that Russell’s demotion left the MLB roster without a true backup to Javier Baez there.
The 28-year-old Villar is hitting .262/.326/.421 with 13 home runs, 22 doubles, two triples and 22 stolen bases (in 28 attempts). Villar’s speed is an element the Cubs’ roster currently lacks. His 22 steals are only seven fewer than the Cubs have totaled as a team. Villar’s wheels likely hold some interest to the Cubs — they’ve also been connected to fleet-footed D-backs outfielder Jarrod Dyson — but Villar’s 24.1 percent strikeout rate (26.7 percent for his career) don’t align with Chicago’s reported interest in adding hitter with plus contact skills (e.g. Sogard, Dyson).
From a contractual standpoint, Villar is affordable. He’s being paid $4.825MM in 2019 (with about $1.66MM yet to be paid out) and is controllable via arbitration for the 2020 season as well. The Orioles were also willing to include some cash in the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to Boston, providing reason to believe they’d be willing to do so with their other trade assets as a means of sweetening the prospect return. Given his relative proximity to free agency and the Orioles’ aggressive tear-down, Villar is a logical trade candidate in the next three days. However, the demand for pitching help throughout the league is far greater than the demand for middle infielders, and the Orioles don’t necessarily need to move Villar if no appealing offer materializes.
- The Orioles are discussing Trey Mancini with “multiple suitors,” MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link). I looked at Mancini as a trade candidate back in May, and he has kept raking ever since, with 24 homers and a .279/.338/.531 slash line over 429 plate appearances this season. Mancini isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, though since the O’s may not be out of rebuilding mode even in three years’ time, it makes sense that they would see if they could strike a big deal while Mancini’s value may be at its highest.
- Orioles left-hander John Means is hopeful that his current stint on the injured list will only result in a single missed start, as he told MLB.com’s Joe Trezza and other reporters that an MRI on his left biceps didn’t reveal any structural damage, and only minor rotator cuff inflammation. Means has been one of the few bright spots on the pitching front for Baltimore this season, posting a 3.12 ERA over 98 innings and representing the O’s in the All-Star team.
The Orioles announced multiple pitching moves this evening. One player is now likely headed out of the organization, as righty Nate Karns was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and designated for assignment.
Unfortunately, the O’s also announced that southpaw starter and rookie All-Star John Means was placed on the 10-day injured list with a biceps strain. Lefty Tanner Scott was optioned down to create the other necessary roster opening.
Karns landed with the Baltimore organization over the winter. He threw 5 1/3 scoreless frames to open his tenure but hit the shelf early with a forearm strain. The 31-year-old struggled mightily on his rehab assignment, dishing out ten walks and recording only five strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
It’s also unwelcome news as concerns Means. It had already been a bit of a rough month, as his ERA has moved north from 2.50 to 3.12, but it’s never preferable to hear of any issues in the arm of a young pitcher. There’s no indication as of yet regarding the severity, but the club will surely hope it’s only a minor blip for the 26-year-old.
As he prepares to debut at 25 years of age, Tate won’t face the massive expectations he once did. Arm issues and inconsistencies have changed the trajectory of the twice-traded righty. He has been solid at Double-A, working to a 3.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over 33 2/3 innings in 15 relief appearances and a pair of starts.
The Orioles have selected the contract of utilityman Jace Peterson from Triple-A, as per a team announcement. Rio Ruiz was optioned to the minors earlier today, and no 40-man move was required since Baltimore had open space on its 40-man roster.
Signed to a minor league deal by the Orioles in the offseason, Peterson opted out of that deal on July 16, though he quickly re-signed a new minors contract just a few days later. Now, Peterson is headed back to the big leagues, which would mark his sixth season of MLB competition.
The 29-year-old Peterson was an everyday player for Atlanta in 2015 and has spent the last three years as a bench piece for the Braves, Yankees, and Orioles. Peterson originally joined Baltimore’s organization in April 2018 after being claimed off waivers from New York. While Peterson has only a .228/.318/.330 slash line over 1524 plate appearances in the Show, he brings a lot of defensive versatility to the table — Peterson has started at least one game at every fielding position except catcher, playing primarily as a second baseman and also seeing significant time as a third baseman and left fielder.
- When the Orioles designated center fielder Keon Broxton for assignment Sunday, manager Brandon Hyde suggested the O’s would lose him, saying (via Joe Trezza of MLB.com): “I’m hoping he’ll get picked up by somebody, especially someone who needs outfield defense and baserunning for the postseason. I wish Keon the best.” It appears Broxton will indeed end up elsewhere in the coming days, as Trezza reports “a few teams” have checked in on the 29-year-old. Broxton can run and defend, as Hyde noted, though horrid hitting has torpedoed his value in 2019. Broxton has struck out in 43 percent of his 165 plate appearances, thus limiting him to a .184/.244/.289 line (42 wRC+). With no minor league options left, both the Mets and Orioles have given up on the once-promising Broxton this season.
Orioles reliever Mychal Givens has reportedly drawn interest from the Phillies and Nationals leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. The Indians, Braves and Dodgers are also among the clubs in on Givens, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription link).
With two-plus years’ team control remaining and a $2.15MM salary, Givens stands out as one of the Orioles’ strongest trade chips. Considering the Orioles are caught in what figures to be a long rebuild, it’ll be a surprise if they don’t part with Givens soon. Unfortunately for the Orioles, though, the 29-year-old right-hander hasn’t enjoyed as productive a season as he did over the previous four campaigns.
Through 38 1/3 innings this year, Givens has pitched to an unspectacular 4.23 ERA/4.63 FIP with eight saves on 13 tries and a weak 39.1 percent groundball rate. A large number of the fly balls Givens has surrendered have left the yard, evidenced by his bloated 22.9 percent fly ball rate. That said, Givens has been a lot steadier since his ERA was pushing 6.00 at the end of May. He has also fanned a career-high 12.21 batters per nine (against 3.99 walks), posted a personal-high 15.2 percent swinging-strike rate and kept his 95 mph velocity intact.
As for the the just-reported teams eyeing Givens, interest from the Indians isn’t anything new. They went after Givens last summer, but Baltimore elected to hold him. The Indians’ bullpen has been among the majors’ most effective this year, in part because of lights-out closer Brad Hand. There has been speculation about the Indians trading Hand, but considering their red-hot run, it seems the playoff hopefuls are more interested in adding to their bullpen than subtracting from it.
The bullpens of the Dodgers and Braves – the NL’s two leading teams – haven’t been as successful as the Indians’. Los Angeles and Atlanta have been linked to multiple trade candidate relievers as a result. In addition to Givens, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles seems to be a Braves target. Meanwhile, the Giants’ key relievers (Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta), Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, Tigers closer Shane Greene Royals lefty Jake Diekman have all been rumored to the Dodgers during their wide-ranging search for late-game aid.
Back in May, right-hander Andrew Cashner suggested to Dan Connolly of The Athletic that he’d consider sitting out the rest of the season if the Orioles sent him to an undesirable destination by the July 31 trade deadline. Cashner, whom Baltimore traded to Boston last weekend, confirmed to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com that he indeed would have held out through year’s end had the Orioles dealt him somewhere he didn’t want to go.
“I mean what I said,” he told Cotillo. “This is one of the places I would come. It wasn’t a place that I would ever not come to. We’re talking about the World Series champions. Why would you not come here?”
Philadelphia was the only other team that showed reported interest in Cashner before his trade to the Red Sox, but the Phillies stopped their pursuit because of concerns over his makeup. The well-traveled Cashner then fell flat in his Red Sox debut in a loss Tuesday to the Blue Jays, who roughed him up for six runs (five earned) on eight hits and a pair of homers in five innings. Cashner had been much more productive than that toward the tail end of his Orioles tenure, though, and has managed a playable 4.09 ERA/4.53 FIP with 6.04 K/9, 2.75 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent groundball rate in 101 1/3 innings this season.
As of now, Cashner’s output looks as if it’ll earn him another guaranteed contract in the offseason – if he reaches free agency. The soon-to-be 33-year-old’s current deal includes a $10MM vesting option if he throws 340 innings from 2018-19 or a player option should he amass 360. But Cashner is well short of either figure, having accrued 254 1/3 dating back to last season, so another trip to the open market appears inevitable. Obviously, though, Cashner isn’t willing to simply play anywhere going forward. The hirsute Cashner also isn’t going to shave his beard at a team’s request, which – as funny as it sounds – could have an effect on where he pitches after this season.