One-time O’s signee and trade chip cashes in via free agency

It all made sense at the time of the trade on July 31, 2014. The Orioles had a chance to win the American League East for the first time since 1997. At the time of that deal, the Orioles had not reached as far as the AL Championship Series since 1997. But after the deal, they would both win the AL East and advance to the ALCS.

The price was steep, though, to get lefty reliever Andrew Miller. The Orioles had to part with their No. 3 prospect and a top 100 pitcher who was then at Double-A Bowie, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez.

On the day of the deal, the Orioles were 60-47 and led the AL East by 1 1/2 games over Toronto, by five over New York, by 7 1/2 over Tampa Bay and 12 1/2 over Boston.

Miller, already having a big season with Boston and in much demand when the Orioles got him, was spectacular for Baltimore. He went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.600 WHIP in 20 innings for the Orioles, allowing just four walks to 34 strikeouts. He then pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings on one hit in the playoffs against Detroit and Kansas City. The Orioles got him to put up zeros down the stretch and in October and he did that.

Then-O’s general manager Dan Duquette said Rodriguez was “required” for the Orioles to make the best offer for Miller, who per one report drew trade interest from 20 teams.

“It wasn’t our first choice to trade him,” Duquette said of parting with Rodriguez in the deal. “But our team is in the race and we want to continue what we started. We needed to add to our club to be competitive with the other clubs, not just in our division, but the other clubs in the American League in a playoff situation.”

The move meant the Orioles were going for it and trading a future asset for a present talent that could make the difference. Miller was a great addition. But unfortunately, he was also a pending free agent who would sign the next year with the Yankees, and that was painful in Baltimore. Had the Orioles won the World Series, it would have made losing Miller after just 27 1/3 innings a little easier to take.

Thumbnail image for Baseballs-at-Camden-Yards-Workout-Sidebar.jpgRodriguez was just 21 at the time of the trade and was rated No. 65 on the Baseball America top 100. The O’s signed him out of Valencia, Venezuela, in January 2010 for $175,000. He was signed by then-O’s scout and former O’s pitcher Calvin Maduro. Rodriguez was well on his way to becoming the first Venezuelan-born amateur signed by the Orioles to make it all the way to the majors with them. He didn’t do that with the Orioles, who now years later continue to look for their first amateur signed from that country to make the majors in the orange and black.

Rodriguez was back in the news recently as he signed a five-year deal for $77 million as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers, who add him to a promising young pitching staff. It’s not often you see Detroit outbid Boston for a player, but it happened here with, we were told, Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels also in the mix for E-Rod before he wound up in Motown.

I remember Rodriguez as a classy kid when he was with the Orioles. The day the club traded him, he took my call while still with the Baysox in Binghamton, N.Y.

“Dan Duquette called me and told me,” Rodriguez said that afternoon. “He said, ‘Thank you for everything you did for the Orioles.’ I’ve liked being with the Orioles, but now I’m going to the Red Sox. I thank these guys for all they did for me.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers’ rebuilding effort is ahead of the Orioles’, mostly because their young pitchers have come faster. Detroit went 47-114 in 2019, 23-35 in 2020 and 77-85 last season.

O’s fans hope their team will be back in a position one day soon to trade a prospect for a current major league talent. That would be a 180 from where they are now, when they trade players like Dylan Bundy, José Iglesias and Mychal Givens for prospects.

The classy kid from Venezuela is long since gone from the Orioles, who are not currently in a position to make such a trade as they did in 2014. But Rodriguez turned out to be about all the club hoped he would as he showed such promise coming up on the O’s farm. And he recently garnered the best contract of his career.

Mancini is the man: The Orioles’ Trey Mancini was the recipient of the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, with Major League Baseball making the announcement Monday night.

The award has been presented annually since 2005 and Mancini is the first Orioles player to be honored.

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