The business conducted this week by Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias isn’t confined to setting the 40-man roster for the Rule 5 draft.
It’s more than figuring out which free agents could fit on the active roster for opening day.
It’s more than compiling a list of candidates for third base coach and infield instructor.
There’s a trade that needs to be completed.
The first trade that’s now become the last one to be finalized.
The Orioles are working out the remaining details on the July 29 deal that sent pitcher Hector Velázquez to the Astros for a player to be named later. I’ve heard that it should be done “soon.”
A couple of fans asked me about it over the weekend, wondering about the delay. There’s still some stuff to go through, but it’s close.
(I hope that wasn’t too technical.)
Whatever the return for Velázquez, it has to be rated as a good trade for Elias based on the cost. A pitcher who never appeared in a game - spring training or regular season - unless we’re counting intrasquads at summer training camp.
The Orioles claimed Velázquez off waivers from the Red Sox on March 8, supervised his bullpen session and closed the complex due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players began to head home less than a week after his arrival.
I wrote on March 12 about two team buses returning to the complex after starting out for Fort Myers, and how other players worked out, threw or ran sprints - the latter group including Velázquez, Wade LeBlanc, Ty Blach and Miguel Castro. None of them remain in the organization.
LeBlanc is a free agent, Blach was released and Castro was traded to the Mets.
A day earlier, Velázquez talked about needing one more bullpen session before making his Orioles debut.
“After that,” he said, “the manager is going to decide when I’m going to be ready to throw in a game.”
The front office decided that he was expendable, a nod to the pitching depth that’s building.
Velázquez was optioned to the alternate camp site in Bowie on July 14 and outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on opening day after clearing waivers. The Astros assigned him to their alternate camp site in Corpus Christi and he didn’t pitch in 2020.
This was the first trade between Elias and his former organization and the Orioles thought Velázquez could compete for a bullpen role, providing long relief and perhaps working as a swingman. Instead, they’re on the verge of acquiring a player for him and moving onto other business.
The six players to be named later this summer finally will be identified, including three who were announced before the last game of the season based on their placement in 60-man pools. They had to be assigned to alternate camp sites in order to be moved.
The Orioles ran out of time to clear three spots, which delayed the completions of the Tommy Milone and Velázquez trades.
Single-A infielders AJ Graffanino and Greg Cullen were obtained from the Braves on Nov. 5, the day that Major League Baseball allowed transactions involving minor league players excluded from the pool. Shortstop Isaac De León, outfielder Mishael Deson and shortstop Victor González were revealed two months ago as players to be named later for Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens and Castro, respectively.
Graffanino was assigned to the Single-A Frederick Keys and Cullen to the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. De León, Deson and González were assigned to the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Orioles 1. Not to be confused with the Rookie-level DSL Orioles 2.