The New Year has arrived, and the hot stove has cooled off a bit.
For most teams, rosters are pretty much in place, invitees already addressed and the shaping of a team has already settled into place. Of course, for a team like the Baltimore Orioles, improvement is something they are always looking at as they continue their growth into a contending team.
With so few free agents remaining to help improve the team from a needs standpoint, the next route would be trades. Whether this includes current rostered players, prospects or even both, will determine the depth of the trade and how much it will benefit the team not only today but for years to come.
Let’s get started and see what players on the current Orioles roster could be traded before Opening Day and the teams that could be in the market for their services.
Austin Hays – Outfielder
Austin Hays came up through the Orioles’ minor league system as one of their top outfield prospects.
He showcased strong defense with a plus arm and good bat control that possessed doubles power and the possibility of 15 to 20 home runs a season.
The early knock on Hays was his injury history. A large amount of time missed due to hamstring injuries had many wondering if he would develop into a full-time starter or just a rotational player.
For Hays, he showed massive potential when playing, especially for extended time. But once again, hamstring injuries would plague the talented Hays at the start of his big league career.
After a meeting with Brandon Hyde and the training staff, a plan was devised to help ensure long stretches of downtime were eliminated. Hays would respond with a career-high 131 games, slashing .256/.308/.461 and hitting 22 home runs while driving in 71.
Last season was similar in stats, except Hays’ value as a defender showed more than his offensive production. After a right wrist injury in mid-June, Hays would bat .210 the rest of the way, though did set a career-highs in games played (145), hits (134) and doubles (35).
Hays would fit in nicely with teams who need a serviceable outfield bat, who is a defensive gem and is entering the prime of his career (turns 28 in July). Partnered with a prospect or two, he could fetch a middle rotation pitcher and possibly a top starter, with the right prospects included in a deal.
Possible fits: Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Guardians, Texas Rangers
D.L. Hall – Left-Handed Pitcher
Most people will see this name and think I may have lost my mind. The reality of the situation is O’s GM Mike Elias has no ties to D.L. Hall outside of overseeing his rise through the minor league system.
Hall, of course, formed a strong one-two punch with Grayson Rodriguez, but control issues have plagued the overpowering lefty early in his professional career.
The other issue with Hall is that he has yet to pitch more than 94.1 innings in a season, which happened back in 2018. Since then, he has pitched 80.2, 31.2 and 84.1 (he pitched 13.2 innings in the majors last season).
The upside to Hall is that he won’t turn 25 until September, he is a hard-throwing lefty and he strikes out a lot of batters. Across his minors career, he allowed a .198 batting average, striking out 421 batters across 301.1 innings of work, with a 3.40 ERA and .198 batting average against (BAA).
The concerning stats are that opposing hitters have a .314 on-base percentage (OBP) across his career and have a .294 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). On top of that, his career walks per nine innings (BB/9) is at 5.14.
Teams who can afford to invest in a back-end starter, possibly converting to a closer, could take a flyer on Hall. Paired with a veteran and another prospect, you might find a number two starter to acquire.
Possible fits: Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Guardians
Anthony Santander – Outfielder
Mike Elias has stated that he hopes Anthony Santander is with the Orioles for at least the next two seasons, both arbitration eligible years for the switch hitting slugger, who won’t be 29 until October.
Santander’s name has been mentioned around trade circles for the last two seasons, with nothing transpiring. Elias did also say that the front office does have to listen to all offers.
The upside with Santander is that he can drive the ball to almost any part of the park and is a steady presence in the lineup. He has set career-highs in the last three full seasons (2020 was shortened due to COVID) in games played, hits, home runs, RBIs and walks.
He can slide into any lineup as a DH with the ability to play outfield if needed, possibly at first base as well. The power threat he possesses makes him a bonafide middle of the lineup threat.
Santander might fetch a role player or bullpen arm in a straight-up trade, but his value will come in a package deal with a couple of prospects if you’re looking for a high-end trade.
Possible fits: Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers
Jorge Mateo – Middle Infielder
One thing the Orioles have is an influx of middle infielders. Jorge Mateo did an outstanding job at shortstop for the O’s last season in his first taste of everyday action.
Mateo would get snubbed in the Gold Glove department but would go on to win the Fielding Bible Award and put on one of the finest defensive displays in 2022.
Leading all shortstops with 14 defensive runs saved (DRS), Mateo would finish in the top five in almost every major defensive category, using his athleticism to make plays most fielders only dream about making.
Mateo also led the AL in stolen bases and showed off some power by collecting 45 extra base hits, including 13 long balls. What held Mateo back was his high strikeout rate and low walk rate.
Over his career, Mateo has a strikeout rate of 27% and a walk rate below 5%, which is affecting his OBP that currently stands at a paltry .271 over parts of three big league seasons.
Though his speed is a game-changer and his athletic prowess makes him exciting to watch in the field, Mateo is just entering his prime years, as he will be 28 in June.
The Orioles have Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz, who all can play shortstop. On top of that, they have last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Jackson Holliday, who was drafted as the shortstop of the future.
If the Orioles do move Mateo, he is still controllable for three more seasons and has the recognition of being a former top prospect in two different organizations.
Mateo could fetch a decent starter or roll player, but his value will come by packaging him with a pitcher and a prospect to fetch a top-end trade candidate.
Possible fits: Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants
Kyle Stowers – Outfielder
Stowers’ name being included on this list might shock some people, but the possibility is actually stronger than many think.
The Orioles currently have a strong outfield with Hays, Mullins, Santander and McKenna. Stowers is figured to push Santander to more of a DH roll, but he also could fetch a strong return on the trade market.
With Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, Hudson Haskin, Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian all climbing the ladder, Stowers could be a fixture for the future or a prospect trade chip to bring a frontline starter to Charm City.
In his short stint in the majors, Stowers hit .253, while tallying three home runs and driving in 11 runs. He displayed a strong control of the strike zone when he settled in, and his defense was solid across the 171 innings he played.
He has power to all fields, can play both corner outfield spots and slashed .260/.356/.491 across his minors career. More importantly, he remained healthy across his minors career.
The idea of trading Stowers is more than likely a long shot, but depending on what is being offered, Stowers could be a strong piece that could bring the likes of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff or Pablo Lopez to Baltimore.
Possible fits: Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers
Of course, this is all speculation and possible scenarios that could occur during the season at the trade deadline. But heading into spring training, these players offer the most promise in returns.
Improving the team is the name of the game, and if Elias can swing a deal involving one, or all, of these players, I can assure you he will do his due diligence to make sure it is a benefit to our team’s growth.
Do you think the Orioles will trade anyone prior to Opening Day? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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