A new week brings trade deadline, rotation questions and last draft signings (updated twice)

The trade deadline is close enough to touch. The countdown is tracked in hours rather than weeks or months.

The Orioles aren’t expected to step back and watch other teams conduct their business. They have players that appeal to contenders. They can provide starting pitching, relievers, outfielders and infielders. They have veteran backup catchers, with Robinson Chirinos behind Adley Rutschman, Anthony Bemboom on the taxi squad and Jacob Nottingham at Triple-A Norfolk.

Make an offer.

The Orioles didn’t do much at last year’s deadline, trading minor league reliever Shawn Armstrong to the Rays and injured shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Phillies. The total return was minor league pitcher Tyler Burch and cash.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias wasn’t going to trade controllable relievers unless the return was strong, which kept Paul Fry and Tanner Scott in the organization. Anthony Santander was bothered most of the season by a hamstring injury, holding down his numbers and value. Trey Mancini, returning from Stage 3 colon cancer, wasn’t going anywhere.

The 2020 deadline, pushed back to late August, was much more entertaining with Elias trading starter Tommy Milone and relievers Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro.

Elias traded veteran starter Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox on July 13, 2019 for Dominican Summer League outfielder Elio Prado and infielder Noelberth Romero. The deadline day looked like it would pass without any more activity, but Dan Straily was traded to the Phillies for cash a month after the Orioles outrighted him.

Rumors about Givens didn’t materialize into anything concrete.

The bullpen could undergo some changes this week, and not just from the usual shuttling between the majors and minors.

A National League scout said he’d take “the entire” Orioles bullpen. Elias may choose to hold onto most of it, but again, make him an offer.

I won’t waste anyone’s time, especially my own, making trade predictions. I thought Fry and/or Scott would be moved last year. I thought Givens was a goner in ’19.

I thought Galvis was off the table last year due to injury. I had no reason to think Armstrong, in the minors, was going to be the first trade of the day.

I’d set the over/under on trades this week at three, but it’s worth about as much as an expired coupon.

It’s a small sample size, but I’ve talked to some people in the industry who question how much the Orioles can get for Mancini, and whether it’s worth trading him beyond perhaps the money saved. But there’s the caveat that a team needing a bat could become more aggressive as hitters fall off the board – and the Mets always seem to come up in these discussions – and part with at least a lower-level prospect. Or that Mancini could be packaged with a reliever.

A Mancini/Dillon Tate to the Mets rumor that circulated during the last homestand gained no traction. Reports that it could happen “by the end of the night” proved false.  

Maybe it was a different night.

Santander hit a game-tying, 420-foot home run yesterday and singled twice, and he has an 11-game hitting streak. He leads the Orioles with 19 home runs, 56 RBIs and a .457 slugging percentage, and is second with a .339 on-base percentage. He’s got to be drawing some heat.

Ramón Urías’ value might never be higher. He’s worked his way into chip status.

The Orioles are playing him every day, mostly at third base, but he started yesterday at second against a left-hander. He’s one of their best players right now. But sellers are gonna sell, and he might attract a nice offer.

A reminder for you old-school types that there isn’t a second trade deadline at the end of August, where a player first has to pass through waivers. It no longer exists. But players can be claimed off waivers.

Also this week, we’ll find out whether manager Brandon Hyde makes any changes to the rotation with Thursday’s off-day. He won’t have a choice if Jordan Lyles is traded.

DL Hall was supposed to start yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk, but the game in Memphis was rained out. The minors shut down on Mondays, so he won’t pitch again until Tuesday at Harbor Park.

How much longer until he debuts?

Bruce Zimmermann tossed five scoreless innings Saturday. Is he nearing a return? And if so, is it for the rotation or in long relief?

Kyle Bradish has replaced Tyler Wells in the rotation. Wells is out indefinitely with a Grade 1 oblique strain.

I keep assuming that Austin Voth is on borrowed time, but he tossed five scoreless innings yesterday with no walks and six strikeouts in Cincinnati. He stays, whether it’s the rotation or the bullpen. Those innings are valuable in any role.

Today is the deadline for teams to sign their draft picks. Right-hander Nolan McLean, a third-rounder from Oklahoma State, hasn’t agreed to terms.

Right-hander James Hicks, a 15th-rounder from South Carolina, shortstop Carter Young, a 17th-rounder from Vanderbilt, right-hander Andrew Walters, an 18th-rounder from Miami, and outfielder Alden Mathes, a 19th-rounder from Richmond, also are unsigned.

Update: Walters announced that he's staying at Miami.

Young transferred to LSU and is staying in school.

Update II: Young changed his mind and signed with the Orioles, per MLB.com' Jim Callis.

Here are the probable starters in Texas:

Tonight: Spenser Watkins vs. Jon Gray

Tuesday: Jordan Lyles vs. Spencer Howard

Wednesday: Kyle Bradish vs. Martín Pérez

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