The draft and All-Star break are approaching in Major League Baseball, running together like colors in the wash. They also move the sport closer to the trade deadline and stacking of chips.
The Orioles have taken some hits, their pile reduced, but there’s still the potential for some movement.
Freddy Galvis isn’t going anywhere after straining his right quadriceps muscle Saturday afternoon in Buffalo. Manager Brandon Hyde described it as a “Grade 1-plus” and projected a one- to two-month absence. And if we’ve learned anything here, it’s to always take the over.
Galvis was deemed a trade candidate as soon as the ink dried on his contract. A typical veteran signing for one year with the chance to flip him later, as non-contenders are wont to do. But not anymore.
There’s been significant interest in outfielder Anthony Santander going back to the offseason and a partner could materialize, but the Orioles wouldn’t be selling high with last year’s Most Valuable Oriole hindered by the lingering effects of a sprained left ankle and entering last night’s game batting .233/.269/.372 in 194 plate appearances.
What would be the return for a player with a significant drop in numbers who’s slowed in the field and on the bases, the ankle bringing noticeable restrictions? Maybe resting over the break would help. It’s just a harder sell.
Or he could do more of what we saw last night, homering and collecting two hits for the first time since June 8.
Maikel Franco fit the same chip profile as Galvis. Signed for a year and a flip or flop.
Franco sat out Monday’s win and began last night .206/.253/.359 in 300 plate appearances. He was 4-for-31 in his last nine games before going 3-for-5 with a three-run double. His minus-1.2 WAR per Baseball-Reference.com was the worst of his career.
Paul Fry’s trade value has never been higher than through the first two months of the season. A left-handed high-leverage reliever with an increase in velocity and strikeouts and splits that make him formidable against right-handers.
The command is missing in June. Fry was charged with three more runs Monday night to raise his total to seven in 9 1/3 innings. He’s allowed 11 hits and walked six batters - two fewer than his combined total in April and May.
Hyde began to consider Fry as a closer after the lefty surrendered only one run and six hits and struck out 15 batters in 10 innings in April and César Valdez began to struggle. Fry allowed four runs and five hits with 16 strikeouts in 10 innings the following month.
An unfortunate byproduct of MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances is how a slumping pitcher is going to find himself in more than jams. There’s also speculation that the two issues are related.
If it gets inside the heads of teams scouting him, that can impact his market. Meanwhile, a slump can just be a slump, like in the good ol’ days.
Matt Harvey was a classic sign-and-flip transaction over the winter. Plug a veteran in the rotation to gobble innings and provide some protection for the younger starters, build up his value and try to get something back in July that aids the rebuild or the quest to improve depth in the system.
The plan seemed to be working in April, but Harvey will need a forceful turnaround this month to make it work. He’s 3-9 with a 7.54 ERA and 1.735 WHIP in 16 starts, and his 57 earned runs led the majors last night. Other stats would thrust him among the leaders except that he doesn’t have the necessary innings to qualify.
Harvey completed five innings Friday in Buffalo for the first time in 10 starts. He lowered an ERA that was 7.80 before he stepped on the mound. Depending on what he does moving forward, including tonight’s outing, maybe a team can envision a use for him at the backend of its rotation or for bulk innings in the bullpen.
Continue to lower the ERA and WHIP, hopefully increase the appeal.
Félix Hernández never made it out of camp. Wade LeBlanc was designated for assignment in April. Those chips never made it to the table.
I don’t expect the Orioles to trade John Means, a homegrown No. 1 starter to build a rotation around, but no one is untouchable on this roster. However, Means isn’t returning until after the break and there are going to be clubs wondering about a left shoulder that’s been interrupting his seasons.
Whether it’s described as fatigue or a strain.
The 4-for-40 slump that trickled into Monday’s game, followed by two singles, isn’t going to turn clubs away from Trey Mancini. There was minimal value heading into the season based on his cancer diagnosis in 2020, when nothing else mattered except his recovery and the business of baseball was stashed in its proper place.
The business side is back. Mancini will be the Comeback Player of the Year. He’s deserving of consideration for the All-Star team, with the Home Run Derby a terrific alternative.
There’s just the issue we’ve discussed here in the past. Mancini referred to himself as a “complicated situation” in a June 8 story on MASNsports.com, based on everything he went through in 2020, along with his enormous popularity with fans and undisputed role as clubhouse leader.
“I try not to allow myself to go too far down that rabbit hole, because I’ve done it before,” he said. “I’ve done it with a lot of things. I’ve done it with an extension. Almost every year since 2015 when I was in the minors, I could have been used as a younger trade piece for a major league piece. There’s always been rumors every single year that I could be traded, so I’ve gotten really used to that.
“In all regards, between that and All-Star Game stuff, all that, I’ve really tried to not let all the noise bother me, because it can affect you. A lot of outside noise, if you let it, can just make you a little more stressed whenever you’re playing and that leads obviously to not optimal performance. I like to think that I’ve learned a lot over the years and one of those is that it’s something that I truly can’t control. And I have no idea what’s going to happen, I really don’t. And I know I’m a complicated situation with what I went through, but I wouldn’t be surprised in any way.
“Obviously, I love playing here, I want to be here, but at the same time, I know that it’s a business as well, and as long as I’m here, I’m going to go out there, I’m going to be the best me, be the best teammate and go out there and try to win games for the Orioles, and I hope I’m doing that for a long time. But again, I also have an understanding of how baseball works.
“The fans have taken a liking to me, so it means a lot.”