Yesterday’s news that the Orioles released Triple-A pitchers Cody Carroll and Evan Phillips forced the latest revisit to the trades that brought them into the organization.
Reliever Dillon Tate is the last man standing in the Zack Britton deal with the Yankees in July 2018. The Orioles released left-hander Josh Rogers in June and he signed a minor league deal with the Nationals.
Rogers recovered from another surgical procedure on his elbow but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2019. His Orioles career lasted eight games, including three starts, and he went 1-3 with an 8.65 ERA and 1.769 WHIP in 26 innings.
At Triple-A Rochester, Rogers has gone 5-2 with 4.73 ERA and 1.358 WHIP in nine games (eight starts). He’s surrendered only five home runs in 45 2/3 innings.
Carroll also had health issues with the Orioles, a back injury costing him the 2019 season. His three appearances in 2020 were painful with 12 runs and nine hits allowed in two innings. He also walked five batters and threw two wild pitches.
The Orioles want Tate to keep evolving into a late-inning weapon and he certainly shows signs of it, but consistency is needed. He has 10 scoreless outings in a row, including the ninth inning last night, to lower his ERA to 3.80, its lowest since June 29.
Is that enough for Britton?
Well, no. But Britton was a pending free agent in the summer of 2018, a rental who wasn’t going to bring a batch of top prospects. The former front office held onto him while making one last run at the playoffs, teased by 2017 contention until the final month.
Tate was the fourth-overall pick by the Rangers in 2015. The Orioles were his third organization. He was transitioning from starter to reliever. The arm and potential lured them, and some teams showed interest at last week’s deadline.
Tate is marked as one of manager Brandon Hyde’s high-leverage relievers. Carroll was supposed to be the same. Rogers was viewed as a potential starter in the back end of the rotation or a long reliever.
The Orioles acquired Phillips, pitcher Bruce Zimmermann, catcher Brett Cumberland, infielder JC Encarnación and $2.5 million in international bonus slot money from the Braves at the 2018 deadline for starter Kevin Gausman and reliever Darren O’Day - the latter a salary dump of an injured player set to make $9 million in 2019.
Gausman also was salary relief, making $5.6 million in 2018 and eligible for two more years of arbitration. He was an All-Star this year, but only after the Reds claimed him off waivers from the Braves and the Giants twice signed him as a free agent.
Zimmermann is a nice local story for the Orioles and a potential piece in the rebuild based on some of his early starter work, though he’s currently on the injured list with left biceps tendinitis. Cumberland has some pop and a crazy knack for getting hit by pitches - 26 this season, 103 in the minors - but he’s blocked by Adley Rutschman, the first-overall pick in the 2019 draft, and still working at Triple-A to improve his defense.
That’s it for the trade.
The Orioles released Encarnación this year after MLBPipeline.com rated him as the No. 30 prospect in the system two years ago. He played at four levels of the system this summer, a clear sign he lost prospect status, and is now playing for the independent York Revolution.
Phillips averaged 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his 44 games with the Orioles, but also 6.8 walks. He had a 7.36 ERA and 1.867 WHIP.
The experience counts as veteran on this club and normally might have been reason to hold onto him and save a seat on the Norfolk shuttle, but the depth is a little better. Pitchers are moving up a level. Space is becoming tighter.
The Triple-A numbers worked against Carroll and Phillips, though it hasn’t been a detriment for a few others who got the call.
The 2021 deadline won’t bring nearly as much scrutiny.