Orioles move to next phase after trade deadline

A trade deadline passes and the inevitable question is posed.

Now what?

Or what now?

The Orioles are done dealing until after Sept. 27. There's nothing flimsy about this deadline. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has to wait until the offseason to move other parts that don't fit in a rebuild.

(I write "parts" knowing these are people with families and feelings, but it's the cold terminology used in this instance. Former manager Buck Showalter called out the media for it on numerous occasions.)

Castro-Delivers-Back-White-Sidebar.jpgMoney was saved by dealing Mychal Givens prior to his last year of arbitration eligibility. His salary was set at $3.225 million in January. And Miguel Castro had two more years of arbitration after agreeing to $1.05 million over the winter.

Removing them from the bullpen leaves manager Brandon Hyde in a familiar predicament. Understand the reasoning but also absorb the punishment that's coming from opponents who can take full advantage of the weakening of the bullpen's back end.

The Red Sox felt it after losing Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree on the same day.

The Tommy Milone trade enables the Orioles to finally plug Keegan Akin into the rotation. No more excuses. He was going to start for them this year in a normal season. We're more than halfway through the 2020 version and it's an ideal time to evaluate him.

Compensating for the losses of Givens and Castro is a bit harder to do. Hunter Harvey isn't going to pitch on back-to-back days and the Orioles must be careful with him again after his forearm injury. Cole Sulser can't be trusted as the closer as long as he's averaging 7.6 walks per nine innings.

Can't really trust him anywhere if his control doesn't improve, but a lower-leverage situation makes the most sense. There's plenty to like about Sulser. You don't give up on him. You just adjust his role.

You give him a breather, as Hyde phrased it.

The issue, of course - and Hyde will point this out again - is that the Orioles have planted roots in a high-leverage neighborhood. But using Sulser closer to the middle of a game is the proper course of action.

Who closes if it isn't Sulser?

Hyde must use a committee. Givens wasn't in the mix prior to the trade, but he'd probably get a shot at it if he stayed. Castro was an option. Hyde will go by availability and matchups.

Could be Tanner Scott. Could be Dillon Tate, who tossed 2 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings yesterday. Could be César Valdez, who worked the last two innings yesterday, if he isn't needed in long relief.

Hyde joked about hoping Valdez isn't a trade chip next year.

Could be Harvey, since the idea of easing him back into the flow lasted only a few hours. He entered Sunday's game in the eighth inning with a one-run lead.

"With me putting (Sulser) maybe down in the middle part of the game for at least a couple outings to kind of get his confidence back and to give him a breather, I'm just going to mix and match and we'll do the best we can there in the last couple of innings," Hyde said.

The Orioles need to replace Castro on the roster before tonight's game against the Mets at Camden Yards.

Could be that guy.

Elias is going to keep checking the market for players like Alex Cobb, Hanser Alberto and Paul Fry. He has an entire winter to do it. The value declines for pending free agents such as Cobb, but as we constantly are reminded, contenders get desperate near the deadline and made bold moves.

Interesting to me that relievers again were in such high demand and left-handers are coveted, but the Orioles held onto Fry and Scott. The Cubs acquired Josh Osich from the Red Sox and Andrew Chafin from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later.

The Orioles would want more for Scott. Was the price tag also higher on Fry?

Yesterday's win ended a five-game losing streak as the Orioles return home to face the Mets and Yankees. They're four below .500 and playoff talk has grown much quieter.

Akin and Ryan Mountcastle are in the majors. Dean Kremer is knocking on the door, according to Elias. There could be more to come.

This is what's next.

O's game blog: The homestand begins
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