A busy trade deadline around Major League Baseball was relatively quiet for the rebuilding Orioles, whose only deals involved players not on their active roster.
In the waning minutes before Friday’s 4 p.m. cutoff, they sent injured shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league right-hander Tyler Burch after trading reliever Shawn Armstrong, who has been with Triple-A Norfolk since early June, to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations in the morning. But the Orioles held on to all of their available players who remained under team control beyond this season, including Trey Mancini, John Means and Cedric Mullins.
Galvis, 31, has been on the 10-day injured list for the past month with a right quadriceps strain but has been taking at-bats at the Orioles’ Sarasota, Florida, complex in hopes of returning in early August. He will become a free agent after this season, with the $1.5 million deal he signed with Baltimore in January including a $250,000 bonus if he was traded; the Orioles will pay that bonus as part of the deal, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. Galvis, who was batting .249/.306/.414 before the injury, spent the first six seasons of his career with Philadelphia.
“He was everything that we could have asked and more,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Not just from a performance standpoint, by playing just a really solid shortstop, giving us four pro at-bats a night, showing that sneaky power that he has as well, but even more so for me was what he did for everybody off the field, in the clubhouse, the leader he was and is.
“We just exchanged texts here a little while ago. I thanked him for what he did, and wish him the best of luck and would love to coach him again someday just because he is a true pleasure.”
Hyde said he figured the deadline could be a calm one for the Orioles, who with the state of their roster lacked the veteran players on expiring contracts that tend to get moved at this time of year. Beyond Galvis, only struggling right-handed starter Matt Harvey and third baseman Maikel Franco fit that mold.
But Elias said the Orioles came “pretty close” in the week leading up to the deadline to making trades involving a collection of available relievers, but none have reached salary arbitration and they won’t be free agents until at least 2024. Paul Fry and Tanner Scott have been two of baseball’s top left-handed relievers over the past two seasons, but neither is eligible for arbitration until this offseason. Right-handers Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate have pitched somewhat effectively in high-leverage situations, but they’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after next season, meaning they’ll be making about the league minimum for another year.
“There were a couple of close opportunities that either didn’t get to the finish line, or we decided not to pull the trigger on them and this wasn’t just today. This was over the last week or so,” Elias said. “It just wasn’t anything that met our threshold for shipping out any of our relief pitchers. We’ve got some really good relief pitchers. They’re all in their first three years in the major leagues. Some of them are going into arbitration next year, some of them aren’t. But we like what they do for us now, we like what they do for us in the future, and we’ll take a look at things next winter, next summer and continue to assess things.”
Like Fry and Scott, Means and Mullins, Baltimore’s All-Star representatives in 2019 and 2021, respectively, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. Elias said the Orioles never seriously entertained trading either. Earlier this year, he said he sees Means as a future Game 1 postseason starter, while later describing Mullins as developing into “a face of the franchise kind of player for us.”
For now, that title belongs to Mancini, who is performing well in his comeback season after missing 2020 undergoing treatment for stage 3 colon cancer. He said repeatedly in the leadup to the deadline that he wants to remain with Baltimore and see the organization’s rebuild through. Sticking with the team into the weekend does not guarantee that; the possibility remains the Orioles explore a Mancini trade during the offseason or by next season’s deadline as he approaches free agency.
But it does guarantee that if he deservingly earns Comeback Player of the Year at season’s end, he’ll do so as an Oriole.
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“I think the future is very bright for Trey Mancini,” Elias said. “He has been through something that I don’t think any of us can imagine, and he’s come out of it and looked like the special person that he is, and he’s back to baseball now, and he’s gonna keep getting better and building off this, and I can’t wait to see him do that. I can’t wait to see him do that with us.
“I hope he’s here as long as possible, and ultimately, we’re going to kind of take things as we come like baseball teams do in the major leagues, and look at stuff and keep talking, but he’s a very special part of his team, and he’s gonna continue to be so, and we’re happy about that.”
Burch, 23, was the only prospect the Orioles added amid a deadline that featured several minor leaguers changing organizations. An undrafted free agent in 2019 out of Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, Burch has a 3.99 ERA, 49 strikeouts and eight walks in 29 ⅓ innings across 23 relief appearances between Low-A and High-A this year. The team also claimed left-hander Ryan Hartman on waivers from the Houston Astros, where Elias oversaw drafts when Hartman was taken in 2016′s ninth round, and optioned him to Triple-A.
“He had a big stuff jump after the shutdown,” Elias said of Burch. “He’s been working with two-plus pitches that are really good, hard breaking ball and you see the strikeout numbers he’s been putting up, and having been recently promoted to High-A and still seeing success, we feel like it’s a nice arm for the system.”
The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, the World Series champions in 2019 and 2016, respectively, used this deadline to sell off many of their core pieces, including Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Elias said that activity didn’t lead to the Orioles’ sparsity of moves, which wasn’t for lack of effort.
“We had an unusual deadline with a lot of really high payroll, big kind of mega roster teams that were winding down their successful runs that were selling off,” Elias said. “You saw a lot of huge names, really high impact players with very large salaries, either with a year or two left, getting traded, and that doesn’t happen every year, and so we saw some really exciting, crazy, large trades today in particular and yesterday. Very unusual. So I think that was a lot of the busyness.
“We had a standard, and we just didn’t see the correct opportunities there, but for the Galvis trade that came together late.”