Fry on trade talk: “I want to be part of the solution either way”

A new week is going to reheat the same old trade deadline talk. Which players are chips for the Orioles front office, which ones lost their luster.

Who’s more likely to leave and who’s a longshot.

What’s become more evident as Friday approaches, executives ordered to put down their pencils at 4 p.m., is how left-handers Paul Fry and Tanner Scott are most likely to be gone. Pick one.

This is a common expectation within the industry and who am I to argue? They’re bringing the most appeal and there are plenty of clubs seeking relievers.

Both pitchers are under team control for three more seasons. They aren’t breaking any banks. And they offer varying skills that can help a contender.

Scott is more erratic due to his lapses in control, but also has a power arm with a plus-fastball and slider. There’s a high ceiling. There’s also some frustration over the walks, but scouts love his stuff.

Fry hasn’t been the same type of prospect but at one point this season was the best reliever in the bullpen, now challenged by Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells, and earned a shot at closing. He allowed one run with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings in April and four runs with 16 strikeouts in 10 innings in May. Teams batted .176/.282/.176 and .147/.216/.176 in those months. But June was a mess, with seven runs, 12 hits and seven walks in 10 2/3 innings.

Thumbnail image for fry-fires-black-sidebar.jpgThe current month has brought improvement and Fry was outstanding Friday night, needing one pitch to retire Juan Soto and escape an inherited jam and striking out the side in the next inning with his slider.

Trusted again yesterday after John Means surrendered a two-out double to Alcides Escobar in the seventh, Fry got a called third strike on Trea Turner with a 93 mph fastball. He struck out Soto and Ryan Zimmerman in the eighth but left with two runners on base.

“It felt good,” he said before yesterday’s game. “It definitely reminded me whatever I was going through those two or three weeks was just mostly mental. The physical side is still there. It just comes with throwing strikes at that point, attacking the zone and not letting the hitter beat me. I beat myself a lot in those three weeks or whatever that I was really bad. So throwing strikes, strike one.

“I know I had a lot of 3-2 counts the other night, but finishing was one of my main points.”

The mental side of the game ambushed him and kept burrowing.

“Success breeds confidence,” he said, “so the first two months of the season, I was really riding that wave and then I had a couple shaky outings and I think they just kind of piled onto each other and kind of let loose there in the ninth inning.

“The ninth inning is a different animal, but at the same time, we’re all fighting for that job one day. You want to be a back-end reliever, so you can’t let the mind change too much and I think I let mine change a little bit too much to where I was sped up or trying to do too much out there.”

The timing of his slump, with Major League Baseball implementing new rules and cracking down on the use of sticky substances, led to some conclusions and analysis that he clearly did not appreciate.

Asked whether his struggles were tied to the intensified scrutiny from umpires, Fry said, “No. People can say what they want to say. I watch the broadcast all the time and it’s kind of annoying, honestly.”

The chatter can be quieted if he just keeps getting outs and exhibiting better command. Leaving only the rumors that he might be traded this week.

Fry should take that talk as a compliment. The fringe major leaguer, acquired from the Mariners in April 2017 for an international bonus slot worth $198,000, has now graduated to a chip.

“Whatever happens is going to happen,” Fry said. “It does make me feel good to know that I might be valued at the deadline, but at the same time, I’m playing for the Orioles right now and that’s where I want to be, so I’m taking every opportunity that I can here and if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, so be it.

“Like I’ve always said, I want to be part of the solution either way, so whether it’s bringing prospects in the organization or I’m here long-term and working in the back end of the bullpen.”

There’s a chance that a right-hander could be subtracted from the bullpen - someone like Cole Sulser or Dillon Tate. There’s practically zero chance that the Orioles trade John Means or Cedric Mullins. The Orioles want them as part of this rebuild process.

Trey Mancini isn’t off the table, but he’s also expected to stay beyond the end of the month. The Orioles must figure out whether to revisit the possibility of a trade over the winter or at next year’s deadline, or engage in extension talks.

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