RUIZ: Baltimore Orioles' top trade candidates performing well as deadline nears
Even as the Orioles enjoy their best baseball of the season, winning seven of their past 11 games and narrowly missing their first sweep of the season Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, manager Brandon Hyde is more than aware of how quickly things can change with Wednesday’s trade deadline.
Many of the guiding forces in the Orioles’ recent success are among their top candidates to be moved. They still hold one of the majors’ weakest records at 35-70, so the roster they have when ending their nine-game road trip Tuesday could be massively different from the one Hyde can use when they start a 10-game homestand Thursday.
“I think we’ll handle it fine,” Hyde said Sunday. “For me, it’s not a secret that things might happen. I think we’re all prepared for something to happen. We’ve all been around enough. We all understand it’s a part of the game, and whoever’s in the clubhouse after the deadline, we’re gonna give the same attention to.”
Hyde knows the club he’s managing might lose some of its top performers, many of whom have been enjoying their best stretches of the season as the Orioles do the same. The injured Mark Trumbo is team’s only pending free agent after trading Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean others are forbidden from being moved.
UNDER TEAM CONTROL THROUGH 2020:
Middle infielder Jonathan Villar: Villar struggled in the Orioles’ series loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, going hitless in 15 at-bats with seven strikeouts. He turned it around in Anaheim with multi-hit games in each leg of the four-game set. In the series, Villar went 10-for-18 with five steals in as many tries and two home runs, the first of those being a game-winning, two-run shot in the 16th inning of Thursday’s marathon.
UNDER TEAM CONTROL THROUGH 2021:
Closer Mychal Givens: Despite allowing runs in his past three outings, Givens has a 3.00 ERA in his past 16 appearances, striking out 27 in 18 innings in that span. Because of the lack of other experienced options in the Orioles bullpen, he’s been overused at times, but from May 31 to July 21, he had a 1.84 ERA in 13 appearances while limiting opponents to a .140 batting average.
Right-handed starter Dylan Bundy: Any possibility of Bundy being traded seemed eradicated when he allowed seven runs in one inning July 12 and was thereafter placed on the injured list with knee tendinitis. But he allowed four runs in his first 11 innings off the IL before Albert Pujols spoiled his second start with a game-tying home run in Sunday’s sixth inning. Bundy has two more years of control after this year, so an offseason deal might be more likely.
UNDER TEAM CONTROL THROUGH 2022:
Outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini: Since ending an 0-for-24 skid July 16, Mancini has homered seven times in his past 11 games, with two multi-homer outputs and his first career streak of three consecutive games with a home run. He’s driven in 13 runners in those 10 games.
Infielder Hanser Alberto: Alberto leads the majors with a .404 batting average against left-handed pitching. Going from changing organizations four times this offseason to a fixture in Hyde’s lineup, Alberto is among the American League’s top hitters overall at .313, a mark boosted by hitting .458 (11-for-24) this week.
UNDER TEAM CONTROL THROUGH 2023:
Catcher Pedro Severino: Severino became the first Oriole since 1999 with consecutive four-hit games, with his four RBIs in the latter contest Saturday matching his career high. He was the first AL catcher with four hits, four RBIs and a steal since 2007, when Ram\u00f3n Hern\u00e1ndez did it for the Orioles.
UNDER TEAM CONTROL THROUGH 2024:
Designated hitter/infielder Renato Nunez: Nunez leads the Orioles with 25 home runs. Nine have come in his past 23 games, a span in which he has slugged .698 with half of his hits going for extra bases. He’s also been playing in the field more often of late after primarily serving as the Orioles’ designated hitter before this road trip.
What’s to come? Fresh off their first sweep of the season, the Orioles complete their road trip west with two games against Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres. The Orioles lost both matchups with the Padres at Camden Yards in June, though the Orioles are playing significantly better than they were then and the Padres are playing worse. A deadline day off precedes a return to Camden Yards to start a 10-game homestand with four against the Toronto Blue Jays.
What was good? Despite all of the strong performances referenced above, Anthony Santander occupies this space this week. He recorded hits in all but one game this week, with multiple hits in four of them, with the increased output coming since the Orioles designated Keon Broxton and made Santander a permanent part of their center field mix. Hyde said after Saturday’s victory that Santander has “a chance to be a special hitter,” and the 25-year-old switch-hitter has shown that potential since June 28. Playing in all 25 of the Orioles’ games in that span, Santander has hit .327 with a .574 slugging percentage while the Orioles have gone 13-12, their best 25-game stretch of the year.
What wasn’t? Chris Davis’ pursuit and subsequent avoidance of a .200 batting average continued in extreme fashion this week. He ended last week with a three-game hitting streak and his average at .192, the highest it’s been after a game since the end of the 2017 season. But his 13 plate appearances this week featured 10 strikeouts, a walk and no hits as his average dropped to .181. The strikeouts left him with 101 in 252 plate appearances, the fewest of any player with at least 100 strikeouts. Nunez started at first over Davis three times during the week, including Sunday against right-hander Felix Pena, as Davis’ up-and-down 2019 continues.
On the farm: Right-hander Dean Kremer is not putting up the strikeout numbers that made him the minor leagues’ leader in the stat a year ago, but he’s proving effective nonetheless. The product of the Manny Machado trade has a 3.02 ERA in 12 starts with Double-A Bowie after pitching six shutout innings Wednesday, his second straight scoreless start. Kremer is part of a Baysox rotation that has the Eastern League’s top three leaders in ERA in Alex Wells, Zac Lowther and Bruce Zimmermann — who was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday — plus 2016 top pick Cody Sedlock and Mike Baumann, who threw a no-hitter July 16.