Much of the talk surrounding the Orioles in recent weeks has been focused on the July 31 trade deadline and whether or not the team will be sellers going forward. Despite having taken two out of three over the Indians this weekend, the O’s have struggled to gain traction this season and still sit last in the weak American League East. That said, we all know how the weak division has allowed the Orioles to remain just 5 1/2 games out of first place despite sitting in the cellar. I’m not prepared to proclaim that the Orioles are in great shape looking ahead, especially because I’ve seen no evidence so far this season to back that up. It could be a bit too early to start selling, though.
The Orioles are going to be in a bit of a dire situation this offseason when it comes to retaining players. There are many pending free agents, including Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen. The O’s also have the potential to lose bullpen arms like Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day and the sparsely seen Wesley Wright. This could create a yard sale of sorts in order to find prospects or even players under longer team control to fill in the roster going forward. I see all the arguments for selling, especially if there is a firm belief within the organization that many of these players will be tough to bring back for the money they want. The important thing to realize is that these Orioles aren’t out of anything. No matter how grim the outlook may seem, this is a team that will likely still be in contention for the division come August - and even into September. The return of Wieters could prove to be a big factor in that, especially if he can provide the offensive boost that he’s shown through his first three games of the season.
I don’t think you are going to see the Orioles ship contributing players away prior to the deadline, especially if they aren’t receiving a significant, major league-ready player in return. The O’s have a number of players that are currently in the minors that could potentially come up and contribute at the start of next season. We’ve already seen the likes of Mike Wright, Oliver Drake and Tyler Wilson in brief stints this year. Kevin Gausman continues to rehab his shoulder injury. Everyone has eyes on Christian Walker, Dariel Alvarez and Chance Sisco. None of these players should cause the Birds to throw in the towel on this season. After making a run at the American League Championship Series last year despite multiple injuries to key contributors, the Orioles find themselves with another opportunity this year to make a run. Health is still an issue, but in a weak division, getting into the postseason is all that matters. Once you are there, anything can happen, as we saw last season with two wild card teams making the World Series.
We’re still more than seven weeks away from the trade deadline. I expect there to be moves made, but I don’t think it’s going to be the extreme roster overhaul that some may desire or even expect. If there’s no aspiration or effort to keep players that could be contributors in the future, I can understand parting with them, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of this season. There should be no white flag waving in 2015. The franchise, as a whole, is still building momentum forward that has been created from a few strong seasons of success. Tapping the brakes on that now could cause the car to come to a complete stop, and no one wants it to eventually start going in reverse for another 14 seasons.
Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.