There are no untouchables on the Orioles roster as they move through the offseason, a point made clear by executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and others in the organization. Only varying levels of motivation to move certain players.
Dylan Bundy has been a candidate to change teams, though the rotation already is flimsy and prospects aren’t going to be rushed as replacements. He’s arbitration-eligible again and MLBTradeRumors.com projects his salary rising to $5.7 million, steep territory for a rebuilding club.
MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand tweeted earlier today, citing a source, that the Orioles are working to trade Bundy. How far talks have progressed is unclear and he wrote nothing is imminent, but added, “one appears to be getting close.”
Obviously, no one in the organization is going to offer confirmation on prospective trades. And it’s open to interpretation whether the Orioles are aggressive in their attempts to consummate a deal or simply listening to offers, which Elias most certainly is going to do.
Feinsand tweeting that “the Orioles are working to trade” Bundy suggests that they’re motivated to complete a deal.
I do know that there’s interest in Bundy from multiple teams. It’s just a matter of finding a satisfactory proposal and the Orioles likely will pull the trigger.
It makes sense based on Bundy’s salary, but he’s under team control again next season, which increases his value to the Orioles. There’s two sides to this story.
Elias mentioned after the General Managers Meetings that there was plenty of interest in his players.
“Oh, definitely,” he said. “And really since I got here a year ago, almost to the day, it’s been a pretty steady amount of inquiries on the same group of players and some others. But there’s a particular group that has drawn interest. But these are guys that we have under control and continue to have under control for multiple years, so we’ve got to pick the right time and the right opportunity of we’re going to move them. But there’s definitely some interest that persists.”
Elias conceded in an earlier interview that the budget could lead to some difficult decisions with the club carrying seven arbitration-eligible players.
“We have a large arbitration class,” he said. “There’s seven guys and they’re good players, but there is money involved. You’ve got to take it into consideration and it may influence the decision whether or not to tender a contract in the first place. But also your threshold for trading those guys if there’s interest elsewhere. That’s part of running any business and it’s part of reality.
“Money and budgets are a huge part of our business.”
Non-tendering players is another possibility, and what the Orioles do with one could impact their dealings with others.
“Without getting into the boring subject of how arbitration works, we don’t know exactly what these guys are going to be commanding next year, so you have to factor in different scenarios, and that can affect other guys in the arb class, or whether we end up trading one of these players might enable us to possibly keep another,” Elias said. “So there’s been no specific determination on any of them.”
The Orioles would like to find a trade partner for infielder Jonathan Villar, who’s projected to make $10.4 million in his final season before free agency. They’ve been aggressive in their attempts, but there’s nothing cooking at the moment.
They’re also checking the market for reliever Mychal Givens, though he’s under team control next season.
Bundy, 27, hasn’t been able to reach the level of production anticipated after the Orioles made him the fourth overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Some scouts claimed he was the best pitching prospect they ever saw, and the Orioles chose him over Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, who went two picks later to the Nationals.
Bundy has made 28, 31 and 30 starts over the last three seasons, but he went 8-16 with a 5.45 ERA, 1.410 WHIP and 41 home runs surrendered in 2018, and 7-14 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.355 WHIP this summer.
No longer possessing an upper-90s fastball, which disappeared after his Tommy John surgery, Bundy has been making adjustments that place more emphasis on his secondary stuff. He threw 50 percent fastballs in 2019, per BrooksBaseball.net, a decrease from 54 percent in 2017 and 56 percent in 2018.
Bundy registered a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts in August and September. He also became the first Orioles pitcher with three straight seasons of 150 or more strikeouts since Daniel Cabrera in 2005-07.
In his 30 starts this season, Bundy received four runs or fewer of support in 23 and two runs or fewer in 17.
Contending teams could view him as a nice option for the back end of their rotation. There’s low risk here. Except for an Orioles team that needs starters.
Update: The Orioles have placed Villar on waivers, according to multiple sources. Any team can claim him and absorb whatever salary he earns in 2020.
I’m still trying to dig up more information, but the decision stems from the club’s failure to find a trade partner and unwillingness to pay a dramatic increase in salary.
One source outside the organization said Villar has been outrighted. Two other sources said Villar is on waivers. The bottom line is they’re ready to part ways with him.
Update II: Villar is on outright waivers. If he clears, the Orioles are expected to non-tender him on Monday and he becomes a free agent.