NEW YORK — The nonwaiver trade deadline is never predictable. You never know what’s going to happen until the clock hits 4 p.m., and sometimes it takes even a few minutes after that for the smoke to clear.
I remember watching the clock with reliever Tommy Hunter in the Orioles clubhouse in 2015, seeing 4 p.m. come and go and Hunter joking that he survived the deadline, only to find out minutes later that he had been traded to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake.
As we sit less than 9 hours from the nonwaiver trade deadline, anything can happen.
Still, it appears that center fielder Adam Jones — the Orioles’ only remaining pending free agent — will remain with the team through the deadline because he has decided to not approve a potential deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jones could have a change of heart — he opened this season saying he wanted the opportunity to win a ring — but an industry source said it’s “highly doubtful” that happens based on recent conversations.
Jones has long said that there would be several factors in his decision whether to approve a trade. As a player with 10 years of major league service time, including at least five with the same club, he has a right to veto any trade. It’s a right few players ever get, and like free agency, it’s an earned right.
He’s made it clear it’s not only his decision but that he has to think of his family — he has a wife and two young boys. And there’s also the charity work he’s committed to throughout the season and beyond in Baltimore. While Jones has long expressed that he’s a San Diego native, it’s clear that Baltimore is close to his heart.
The Orioles will remain in trade discussions with other clubs about other players. Pending free agent Danny Valencia is available but hasn’t received much interest. Though Valencia was one of the Orioles’ top hitters earlier in the season, he’s hitting just .206 with just two extra-base hits over his last 20 games through some inconsistent playing time.
Valencia appears to be a player who could be moved after the nonwaiver deadline. After today, any player would have to first clear waivers before he is traded.
They have entertained inquiries about controllable players like right-hander Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, both of whom have garnered interest from multiple contenders. The notion that any discussion regarding those players is serious has more to do with timing — with the deadline this close — rather than anything being imminent. But that could change quickly if a club is willing to give multiple top prospects in return.
The Orioles’ rebuild is clearly underway, and as interesting as the days leading up to the trade deadline have been, the next few days will hold intrigue as well. In June, the Orioles began to shop their pending free agents, setting forth a two-month window that focused on adding prospects to the farm system for those pending free agents.
Now after the deadline, will the next step be calling up some of the organization’s top prospects like outfielders Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart? And what effect does that have on Jones remaining in center field throughout the season?
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, who suddenly is the public voice of the organization’s rebuild, made it clear that the club is moving forward with younger players, so the team the Orioles brought to New York on Monday could be a lot different than the one that leaves for Texas on Wednesday night.
The Orioles have already cleared out roster space. With the trade of reliever Brad Brach, the Orioles’ 40-man roster sits at 37, so conceivably, they could bring up Mullins, Stewart and a reliever to replace Brach — likely right-hander Cody Carroll, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Zach Britton trade — all at once provided they can make 25-man roster space for the two outfielders.