The days are melting away before the non-waiver trade deadline that usually creates a late flurry of moves.
I’ll always liken it to Sugar Ray Leonard peeking at his corner while in a clinch, waiting for the signal that 10 seconds remained before the bell so he could rain punches on Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Steal a round in boxing, try to steal a prospect in a rebuild.
The rumor mill is churning at a feverish pace. There’s a perception in the industry that the Orioles are “listening on” anyone, which amuses me because I’ve never known a general manager to set up his phone to decline calls on certain players. I’m not sure that the technology exists in 2018.
While no one on the Orioles roster should be regarded as untouchable, I keep hearing that the focus continues to fall upon the pending free agents, a list that includes center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Brach. But again, the Orioles will react if a team steps up its negotiating game.
As I was told Friday, all talks can be labeled as “serious” with the deadline looming, but nothing was imminent.
Jonathan Schoop remains the most interesting case to me. At the risk of banging the same drum, a decision must be made whether to negotiate a long-term deal or move him before spring training 2019 and attempt to get the maximum return.
The interest in Danny Valencia has been minimal thus far despite his reputation for mashing left-handers. He could be one of those players moved at the end of August after passing through waivers.
Valencia would figure to appeal at some level to an American League team as a bat off the bench and occasional designated hitter. He can be used at third and first base and has played right field for the Orioles this season, but defense won’t tip the scales in his favor. The calling card still reads “offense,” with perhaps a mention of his hair in fine print.
As for Jones, the Orioles have engaged in talks with the Indians, Phillies and Giants while also considering a 2019 season with him in their lineup - whether it’s center field or one of the corners. They could trade him by 4 p.m. Tuesday, attempt to pass him through waivers and move him by the Aug. 31 deadline for players to be eligible for postseason rosters or hold onto him and negotiate a new deal over the winter.
It makes little sense to do the latter if a suitable offer is put on the table. Get something for him and give the guy an opportunity to win a ring. But it’s ultimately his call with 10-5 rights.
“Adam is a guy that kind of fits for all occasions,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I know where his ... but he’s also very smart. He understands reality. As much as he has a take on everything, when push comes to shove, he makes some pretty sound decisions. He knows, I think, the same thing. He’s just got a competitive spirit.”
“I know that there’s been conversations along the way, whether it be in the spring. You get a feel for what people are thinking, as much from Adam, but there comes a time, probably not in the too-near future, that you’ve got to show your cards. But I’m talking about the rest of his career, so to speak. We’ll see where that takes us. That’s kind of out of my hands.
“When you know somebody as well as you do Adam, been through so many battles and what have you, it’s a challenge to think because your heart gets in the way so much. But he’s going to end up ... With Adam, you know exactly what you’re getting. There’s not going to be a lot of sway in what he’s bringing and it’s one of those things where, when it’s gone, you’re hoping somebody at some point will bring that up. What happens between now and next year is way too far off for me.”
The Orioles close out their series and homestand with today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Rays. And they’re still waiting for post-DL Dylan Bundy to resurface.
Bundy has made three official starts this month since injuring his ankle while running the bases in Atlanta and he’s allowed 15 runs (16 total) and 19 hits in 12 1/3 innings. The three home runs surrendered to the Red Sox over 1 2/3 innings were washed away by rain, but the memory lingers.
Today marks Bundy’s third start against the Rays, all of them home. He was charged with seven earned runs (eight total) and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings, and allowed only two hits over seven scoreless innings less than a month later.
In eight career games (seven starts) against the Rays, Bundy has posted a 6.00 ERA and 1.513 WHIP over 39 innings. Mallex Smith is 4-for-19. Wilson Ramos is 2-for-13 with a home run and five strikeouts.
The Rays are starting rookie right-hander Yonny Chirinos, who’s 0-2 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.230 WHIP in seven games, including six starts. None of the Orioles have faced him.