LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - One of the more interesting decisions facing the Orioles in the offseason is whether to remove a bullpen piece in order to acquire a starting pitcher or left-handed bat. Whether it’s worth the risk of weakening an area that must remain sturdy as the team leans so heavily on it.
There’s no reason to drag Mychal Givens into the discussion because the Orioles are extremely reluctant to part with him for a variety of reasons. He’s regarded as the closer in waiting with Zach Britton and Brad Brach eligible for free agency next winter; he’s 18-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.107 WHIP in 157 major league games; he averages 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings to lead a staff that too often pitches to contact; and he’s under team control until 2022.
Teams keep inquiring about Givens, the Orioles keep resisting and they’re not expected to change their stance on the sidearmer. It might not be accurate to label him as untouchable, but they would have to be overwhelmed by an offer.
They’ve checked on the level of interest in Britton as the Winter Meetings move into their second full day - I’ve heard that at least one National League club was contacted - but executive vice president Dan Duquette keeps downplaying the possibility of a trade before opening day.
Brach’s name has come up again, as it did last year at National Harbor when the Mets tried to pry him from the Orioles in exchange for an outfielder. Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce were on the table. The Mets remain interested in the right-hander as they search for bullpen help, but yesterday’s Matt Harvey rumor doesn’t seem to have much traction.
The Orioles are intrigued by Harvey because they need to fill three spots in their rotation and must be “resourceful” while going about it. The checkbook won’t open for the upper-tier free agents, and that includes the second level that houses such names as Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. Too many years and too much money.
Harvey could be too much of a health risk after he was diagnosed over the summer with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that results from excess pressure on the nerves or blood vessels between the rib cage and collarbone. It caused pain in the shoulder and neck areas and required a surgical procedure that ended his 2017 season.
The Orioles’ physical would be a pay-per-view event.
Interest in Harvey remains at this time, but he’d likely have to come to them for a more modest return and the Mets aren’t expected to bite.
The Diamondbacks also are in the market for a reliever and they have left-hander Patrick Corbin to offer as bait. He can become a free agent next winter.
Corbin would fill the need for a southpaw in the rotation, but he’s reportedly drawn early interest from the Yankees. That’s never a good sign for the Orioles.
Just how proactive will they become in their quest for pitching?
Meanwhile, Duquette appeared on MLB Network today and said a move to shortstop for Manny Machado is “a possibility,” which echoes what I heard prior to the Winter Meetings.
“I think Manny in his heart of hearts feels he’s a shortstop, right?” Duquette said. “He grew up a shortstop and although he’s one of the best third basemen in the business, I think deep down he likes shortstop, too.”
What happens to Tim Beckham in this scenario?
“We like what Beckham brought to the ballclub last year when he got a chance to play every day,” Duquette said. “He did real well with the bat when we first got him and I thought he played pretty solid defensively, so if Manny’s interested in playing short, that’s something we’re going to have to sort out.
“Beckham has all the tools to be a good shortstop and Manny’s a terrific third baseman, so I still think we’ve got to sort that out.”
I don’t envision a happy Beckham if he’s reduced to a utility role or moved to another position. He made it clear during his first interview with the Baltimore media that he considered himself a shortstop. Not second base, not third base, not bench.
There’s also the issue of finding a third baseman to replace Machado, since no one in the organization is ready to assume the role.
Check out “MASN All Access” today on Facebook with more live coverage from the Winter Meetings beginning at 11 a.m. A two-hour edition of “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” airs at 5 p.m. on MASN.