ARLINGTON, Texas — The Orioles, manager Brandon Hyde said, have not done enough to prevent what Major League Baseball’s trading close this year has brought them, or rather what it has taken away from them.
They traded a fan favorite for two pitching prospects and an All-Star for four more. Their biggest major league signing, holding that status because he was their only one, was a light-hitting fielder who was released by a team they track in the American League wildcard standings.
“That’s the game we’re in,” Hyde said. “We have to get up by the deadline. Hopefully we’ll add soon. Hopefully one day soon we will add the deadline clearly.”
It seemed possible it would be that deadline, with an Orioles team over .500 and within reach of postseason spots adding players that could benefit them over the coming two months, next season and potentially beyond. Instead, they traded first baseman Trey Mancini and closer Jorge López while sending the Tampa Bay Rays money for outfielder Brett Phillips.
In theory, it could have been worse. They kept veteran starter Jordan Lyles, outfielder Anthony Santander and every other potential trade contender. But other than bringing in a bench piece for Phillips, the front office did nothing to add to a team that finished the day 1 1/2 games short of a playoff spot.
The focus, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias made clear after trading with Mancini, remains the future.
“The bottom line is that this is an organization that we feel like there’s a window – a championship window – opening up for,” Elias said Monday. “And we have an opportunity at this time to seek players who can contribute to this window and the pursuit of multiple playoff appearances over the next few years here in Baltimore.”
Only one of the six minor league weapons Baltimore added in this week’s trades smashed above High-A. Those moves are obviously more about the organization’s long-term future than a potential post-season run this year or next.
When the major league portion of this rebuild finally seemed to be paying off, the Orioles’ front office gave away two key pieces when it signaled how little a potential third wildcard spot means to them, even if they head into the postseason at all entering creates the opportunity to go deeper.
“I think we still have a good team but yeah it’s going to be an uphill battle from here on out to lose these guys,” said first baseman Ryan Mountcastle. “But I think we’re up to the challenge and hopefully we can make a push.”
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They are still fourth in their class. They must skip two teams to earn a playoff spot. They are largely inexperienced and are becoming even more so after losing Mancini and López.
But even if Elias and company think a playoff spot is unlikely, those in the Orioles clubhouse plan to pursue it anyway.
“We’re still going to go out there and try to win ball games,” said reliever Joey Krehbiel, “just like we’ve been the last so many games.”
Hyde added: “I don’t think our boys are going to back down.”
The last two games have shown that as the Orioles (53-51) defeated an underdog Texas Rangers. Adleyrutschman, the first overall pick of 2019 who has since been the face of Baltimore’s rebuild, has laced doubles on the field. Terrin Vavra, a newly recalled one-time trade acquisition, reached base four times in Tuesday’s victory. As these next two months play out, Baltimore is likely to make further additions from the pipeline that Elias has built, one that has received new weapons with this week’s trades.
Even after these forward-thinking moves, the focus for players left behind in the Orioles’ clubhouse is on the present.
“I don’t think I’ve seen any guys with their heads down or angry or sad or sulking or anything,” Lyles said. “We keep showing up. We still have a good team. We have shown that in the last two nights.”