How recent moves by Braves and White Sox impact trade potential of Orioles’ Trey Mancini and Mychal Givens

Even a late Thanksgiving this year hasn’t given baseball teams much incentive to get on with their offseason business early, and nearly a month into free agency, only a few teams have done much to improve their rosters.

The Atlanta Braves have been proactive by re-signing former Orioles reliever Darren O’Day and reliever Chris Martin while signing top left-handed reliever Will Smith from the San Francisco Giants. The Chicago White Sox have been aggressive in re-signing first baseman José Abreu and adding catcher Yasmani Grandal on a big contract.


Those moves have been statements of intent, but haven’t exactly shaken the entire baseball world. What they have done, however, is alter the trade market for some of the most attractive pieces the Orioles could move this offseason.

While infielder Jonathan Villar, who could earn north of $10 million this year in his final season of salary arbitration and thus might not end up as part of the Orioles’ plans, should remain the most urgent trade priority, he’s not necessarily impacted by these moves. Reliever Mychal Givens and outfielder Trey Mancini, however, are.

The Braves beefing up their bullpen with O’Day, who was great down the stretch last season after missing most of the year with a forearm injury, plus Martin and Smith, means Atlanta doesn’t have as much urgency to give up prospects for Givens. It’s worth noting that the bullpen coach who helped give Givens his start, Dom Chiti, is currently in the Braves organization.

At the outset of the offseason, the prospect of Atlanta reuniting Givens with O’Day and getting him around some familiar voices in that organization would have been tempting and likely worthwhile. But Mark Melancon and Shane Greene are still in the Braves bullpen, and Givens is likely considered surplus.

The Braves’ moves might, however, make some of the pitching-challenged teams in the National League East — like the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals or Philadelphia Phillies — realize that sliding someone like Givens in front of their closer could help them keep up with Atlanta.

The signings Chicago made don’t have a direct correlation to making a big move for Mancini, who has three years of club control and is really coming into his own at the plate. But the White Sox make one of the most natural trade partners for a player who can make them better in 2020 and beyond. Chicago is trying to transition from its own rebuild to being competitive again.

Mancini would be an upgrade in right field for the White Sox, but re-signing Abreu and factoring in that Grandal will get time at first base and designated hitter means Mancini would be playing a position he’s not best suited for — like he is in Baltimore.

He’s developed into a serviceable outfielder, but is at his best offensively when he’s not playing out there. A team that’s willing to meet what would be a very high price for Mancini, considering what he means to the Orioles, would probably want to deploy him in the best possible way. It’s unclear if having him shoehorned into the outfield for three more years would be best, and two weeks ago, the White Sox wouldn’t have had to do that.

With a week left until the deadline to tender contracts to these players, what executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias referred to as a “choke point” of the offseason is coming up Monday. Players can still be traded after they’re offered a contract for 2020, so it’s not as if anything needs to happen imminently.

Everything that happens between now and the start of the season, though, will impact the Orioles’ plans to rebuild. The trick is not letting that get them off course.

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