SAN DIEGO — Throughout his comments about the trades the Orioles consummated this month, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has indicated that a few conversations with rival clubs created a strong sense of their respective markets in his mind.
For Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy, dealt to the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels, respectively, those markets were such that Elias felt a trade made sense. For others, like outfielder Trey Mancini or reliever Mychal Givens, it’s less clear what he intends to do — or whether the market values those players as much as Elias and the Orioles would.
What’s evident is that there’s been a lot of discussion about rival teams prying more pieces away from a team that’s already parted with two important ones.
“I would say most of the trade discussions are centered around people seeking our veterans and us talking about prospects or young players in return,” Elias said.
Whether that comes together, he said, is a combination of a market that’s fluid in team needs, but also rather static in what the Orioles feel a return should be.
“A lot of what we’re here doing is the winter meetings kind of puts a little bit of a pressure on everybody to talk to one another,” Elias said. “You learn a lot of information about all your players. I think the one thing that’s nice for me this year versus a year ago is I have not just like an academic understanding of who they are in not just their trade value, but their value to us and their skill levels, but I’ve kind of lived it for a year and know what types of conversations have taken place surrounding these players last year at this time, the trade deadline, and this winter.
“I have a lot more comfort for what that is, but sometimes, all of a sudden, somebody jumps up and gets super interested in a player all of a sudden. You never know when that’s going to happen. That could happen this week. It could be later on. You never know.”
While that was in response to Mancini’s value on the market, Elias was a little more expansive on how teams might view Givens. Mancini’s career has been on a steadily upward trajectory, with last year’s 38-homer season and .899 OPS a logical progression in his development in his third full season.
Givens, by comparison, was dominant as a middle-innings reliever earlier in his career and, without any diminishing of his stuff, struggled to replicate that in a closer-type role the past two seasons.
Elias said that with respect to Givens’ role and how it pertains to his value, “that’s more of a question for baseball today than the Orioles specifically."
“He’s our best relief pitcher, so however [manager Brandon Hyde] or we want to deploy that on a given night, I think it depends on your philosophies and where you are in the lineup, and the leverage index and all that fancy stuff," he said. “But he’s our best, most trusted relief arm.”
In terms of the different ways he’s used and the swings in results, Elias said teams would be making decisions based not on the role, but on the arm.
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“I think people are very aware of his strikeout rates and the quality of his stuff, and his body of work over years with the Orioles teams both good and bad with the last five years,” Elias said. “I do think other teams, if I was in their shoes, if you look at the amount he has to shoulder in our bullpen relative to one where there are a lot of other helping hands, it’s something to consider. But I think mostly people, when they’re evaluating Mike, it’s the same thing that we all see: the punch-out stuff, the electric arm, the athleticism. Regardless of the role that he’s in, you know that he’s a plus reliever.”