Orioles Add Big Bats At the Deadline

Tyler Nevin, Hartford Yard Goats, July 26, 2019 at Dunkin' Donuts Park, Hartford, CT. Photo credit Bill Mercey, hartford.baseball on Instagram and BillMerceyPhotos.com

“Why would we trade Givens? He’s been so good.”

“We could make the playoffs. We need Milone to keep pitching well to do that. This is crazy.”

“I guess we’re still rebuilding, I just don’t get it.”

These are 3 of the texts that I received from friends after the Orioles made a pair of deadline deals, sending pitchers Tommy Milone and Mychal Givens to Atlanta and Colorado respectively.

While we won’t know the return from Atlanta for Milone yet, as it was a player to be named later (PTBNL). The reality is that getting anything for a 33-year-old starter that has made 6 starts in Baltimore, is a huge win for the team. While the return certainly will not be any of the big names remaining in Atlanta’s farm system, someone like Phil Pfeifer would be an intriguing name. He came in at #36 on Jake Berry’s Prospects1500 2020 Atlanta Top 50 list and is basically MLB ready, which seems to be what Baltimore has targeted in trade acquisitions. He’s already 28-years-old but does not appear to be part of Atlanta’s long term plan. As he has seen time in AAA each of the last 3 seasons and would be someone that could likely step right into the Baltimore rotation to bridge the gap until the young guns are ready. While he’s purely speculation, that would be the type of player I would expect.

The Givens trade is a different trade entirely though. Givens has represented the biggest trade chip Mike Elias has held since taking over. Givens has been a quality arm at the back end of the Baltimore bullpen since he was called up in 2015. Posting double digit K/9 numbers every year but one, Givens was a bit down in 2019, struggling with the closer role and seeing his trade value dip a bit. Despite the loud calls for Givens to be dealt, Elias gambled on Givens rebuilding that value and he has delivered in 2020. With a career high 13.2 K/9, Givens did not allow a run in his first 10 appearances and has only allowed 2 earned runs to this point in the season, accumulating 5 holds, so while the closer role has not been a good one, high leverage certainly doesn’t bother him.

While I’m a bit sad to see Givens go, as he represents one of the few players remaining from the teams that were so good a few years ago, the return from Colorado is a good one with 2 very exciting minor leaguers coming to Baltimore as well as a player to be named later. Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin, who were #9 and #12 respectively in Michael Parnell’s Prospects1500 Rockies Top 50 in January, both represent big time bats that can contribute to the big club in the near future.

Nevin, a former first round pick and the son of former MLB player and current Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, is a bat first corner infielder. He did see 8 games in the corner outfield last year at Double-A Hartford, trying to find a way to potentially get his bat into a crowded Colorado corner infield situation, with at least reasonable results. Nevin has shown a plus eye at the plate, walking at an 8.4% clip while only striking out 16.7% of the time. He has hit 13 home runs each of the last 2 years between High-A and Double-A, most importantly matching his power output from the hitter friendly California League in his first shot in the Eastern League. While the average dropped the peripherals staying solid give me a feeling, we will see the average return to something closer to the .328 he hit in 2018 as he continues to grow. The big righty should also continue to develop power and should top 20 home runs when he arrives in Baltimore. While I don’t think we will see him in Baltimore at this point, I would expect him to join the player pool to get some reps for the remainder of the season.

Vavra, who like Nevin also has MLB bloodlines (his dad Joe is a coach in the Detroit organization), was a third-round pick in 2018 for Colorado. I can imagine the only reason Vavra was available is the incredible depth Colorado has built up the middle. In his first full professional season, Vavra split time between second base and shortstop at full season Asheville. He had slightly more success defensively at second base and seems to profile more there than at short, but shortstop is not out of the question. Make no mistake though, Vavra is a bat first prospect. With a slash line of .318/.409/.489 and a K/BB of 1:1, not to mention double digit home runs and stolen bases, Vavra dominated Full Season A. I imagine he will move quickly in Baltimore, as he was a little old for his level, being a college junior when he was drafted. I would expect Vavra to jump in toward the back end of my top 10 Orioles prospects once new rankings are released, with the opportunity to jump up pretty quickly once minor league play resumes, hopefully in 2021.

All in all, both trades are wins for the Orioles in my opinion, as neither Milone or Givens were part of the long term plan. Sure, based on the texts I received almost immediately, Givens was a fan favorite at this point and it’s always hard to trade a player that is popular, but it was certainly the best move for the rebuild and the franchise long term. Would it be fun to sneak into the playoffs in this incredibly odd season? Sure, it would, everyone like to make the playoffs, but I’m incredibly happy Elias stayed the course and continued to amass the young talent that will be required to win for an extended period of time.

An absolute sports fanatic. Be it at the office or a family gathering, you can usually find me talking sports, especially baseball. When I am not at the office working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at a small bureau in the Dept. of Human Services, I love to golf, go to Baltimore to catch the O’s or Ravens and spend time with my amazing wife. Follow me on Twitter @RyanJames5.

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