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Orioles GM Mike Elias downplays trade possibilities amid reported interest in stars Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander

Such is the length of the Orioles’ rebuild that Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander, once considered future cornerstones, are now most attractive to potential trade partners.

Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Wednesday that despite reported interest in the team’s top players and the last two Most Valuable Oriole winners, he “can’t say that anything is likely” on the trade front for the team in general.

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“Everyone knows that we’re listening right now,” Elias said. “We’ve traded a number of veterans the last few years, dating back to 2018. We’re pretty transparent about what we’re doing. I think if you’re a buying team right now, that puts us toward the top of the list. We have some talented players, and many of them have a lot of years of contractual control left and it’s natural there will be some phone calls, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to do anything. But we always do our jobs in terms of fielding calls, working the market, finding out what’s going on out there.”

Mancini, who missed the entire 2020 season getting treatment for stage 3 colon cancer that was diagnosed in spring training, has emerged as the face of the franchise. Both he and the Orioles’ leadership believe he’s on track for a healthy and productive 2021 season. The 28-year-old slugger was given the same salary he would have made in a full 2020 season — $4.75 million — for the 2021 season to avoid arbitration, and MLB Network reported Tuesday night that the Atlanta Braves had engaged the Orioles in discussions about acquiring him.

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Asked whether Mancini’s history with the team and what he has gone through would impact his trade value to the franchise, Elias said “what factors into our evaluation is he’s one of the better hitters in baseball.”

“He missed a year last year, that was obviously a horrible surprise that we all got in spring training. But we got him the best medical care on earth, [and] he took it on like Trey Mancini,” Elias said. “He’s 100%, he’s looking great. We’re just super excited to see him in Sarasota. I think he’s going to go right back to hitting in the middle of our lineup and being one of the better hitters in baseball this year.

“He’s going to be a big part of our team this year, obviously. To be sitting here, January 27, with the news that we got in March and where he’s at right now, we’re at I think the top outcome we could have had. I’m so proud of him and our medical staff for everything they’ve done.”

Elias said Mancini was being asked to prepare for more first base than corner outfield work, though the latter will still be an option. He reiterated manager Brandon Hyde’s comments from last month that Chris Davis would have to earn his playing time at first base, and noted that Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart were all good options at the corner outfield spots — with former top prospect Yusniel Diaz a candidate to debut midseason.

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Having those options, plus Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Ryan McKenna all capable of playing center field or a corner spot, would explain why the Orioles could entertain offers for Santander. The 26-year-old former Rule 5 draft pick will make over $2 million in his first year of salary arbitration, and because of the up-and-down nature of the beginning of his major league career will have an extra year of club control and arbitration eligibility before he’s a free agent after the 2024 season.

He could have an attractive market, with multiple reports connecting him to the Miami Marlins. But Elias characterized the Orioles’ outfield competition in camp as a fun and competitive one, and presumably, Santander will be part of that.

Since Elias took over in the fall of 2018, players eligible for raises through the salary arbitration process have been primary candidates to be traded or released. Infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph weren’t tendered contracts for the 2019 season. Infielder Jonathan Villar was traded just before he could be tendered a contract for the 2020 season, and right-hander Dylan Bundy was dealt with two seasons of club control left shortly after that same tender deadline. Relievers Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro were all traded last summer.

This year, infielders Renato Núñez and Hanser Alberto were released ahead of the Orioles engaging in the process of possibly giving them raises.

SPRING TRAINING

Key dates for the Orioles’ preseason preparations in Sarasota, Florida:

Feb. 16: Pitchers and catchers report

Feb. 21: Position players report

Feb. 27: First exhibition game vs. Atlanta Braves

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