How about the Baltimore Orioles? What a team they’ve put together. After a win yesterday, the Orioles passed the Tampa Bay Rays by percentage points, narrowly making them the leader in the AL. Who would’ve thought back in the spring? Despite their leading record, they have just +750 odds of winning the AL, fourth behind the Rays, Rangers, and Astros. This team can compete in the playoffs, but how should they handle the looming MLB trade deadline?
Offensively, the Orioles don’t have any stars by any means, just a bunch of darn-good players. Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays lead the way, each hitting above .270, with Santander leading the team in home runs and RBI. Former top prospect Gunnar Henderson seems to turn a corner, hitting .309 since the start of June after a brutal start to the season. A few more bats could be welcomed, but this roster screams chemistry, so the front office won’t want to mess with the lineup too much.
Like the other AL teams looking to be buyers at the deadline, the Orioles need starting pitching depth. After Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells, the O’s should explore opportunities to upgrade the rest of the rotation. Cole Irvin has been a pleasant surprise in his recent outings, but he, along with Kyle Gibson and Dean Kremer, are guys you might have to live with. Former top prospect Grayson Rodriguez hasn’t emerged as they hoped in the starting rotation with an ERA north of seven over eleven starts, so adding another quality arm to the mix to give manager Brandon Hyde needs to occur.
The bullpen is where this team has won a bunch of games, as they may have the two best relievers in all of baseball in Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista, who have both been frankly ridiculous. They might be the best bullpen duo we’ve seen in years. Still, you can never have too many bullpen arms in baseball, so look for Baltimore to target a reliever for added depth.
Considering the O’s success, they still have reinforcements in coming seasons as they have the consensus best farm system in all of baseball. Baltimore has the means to be in the trade discussions for anyone, which has recently sparked speculation of the O’s being a sleeper team in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. As fun as it may be to see Shohei join this electric Baltimore team, catapulting them to AL frontrunners, it still is hard to envision the O’s selling the farm when they likely don’t have the financial backing to resign him this offseason.
In realistic terms, expect Baltimore to add a starting pitcher and maybe another bullpen piece to add to the Bautista and Cano duo. I’d like to see them land an elite name to add to the rotation, maybe Corbin Burnes, Shane Bieber, or even Max Scherzer if their respective teams make them availableâsomeone who is actually a difference-maker. With Cole Irvin only allowing one earned run in five of his last seven starts, Baltimore should trot him out instead of overpaying for someone like Drew Smyly. Ultimately, prospects are only prospects at the end of the day, so when you have a team with one of the best records in baseball, you better use every possible reasonable resource to improve your championship odds, something that remains to be seen with Baltimore.