Baltimore Orioles’ 2019 season is all about building trade value and a high draft pick in 2020

Chris Davis

Status: Rebuilding

The Orioles, having traded away Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop and lost Adam Jones to free agency, are heading for a lengthy rebuild. The 115 games lost in 2018 was just the start.

Offseason moves

Nate Karns has been added to give another starting option after Kevin Gausman was traded midway through last season. Karns missed the entire 2018 season with an elbow issue and is an unknown for the 2019 campaign. He was good for the Rays back in 2015, and Baltimore will be hoping for a surprise bounceback.

Drew Jackson arrived from the Phillies for international bonus pool money, providing depth up the middle. Jackson hit well in AA last year and could feature in the Majors.

Another middle infielder with a .800 AA OPS in 2018 was selected in the Rule 5 draft. Richie Martin is a former first-round pick and is only 24. Martin and Jackson are Baltimore’s 15th and 25th prospects respectively.

Josh Osich was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. Osich is a hard-throwing lefty with Major League experience, who has good stuff, though he has not been effective in the big leagues since a solid rookie year in 2015.

A handful of players led by Alcides Escobar, Eric Young and Gregory Infante were handed minor league deals with an invite to Spring Training. They will all compete for spots on the Opening Day roster as the Orioles look to fill out their 25-man around the handful of veterans that remain.

What to watch

Gausman has already gone – now the attention turns to Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb as trade candidates. Cobb was dire at the start of last season but improved before being shut down. Bundy has been a disappointment, his 5.45 ERA in 2018 is not going to get contenders interested. Baltimore need him to be good enough that teams think he is unlocking his potential. Cobb has to show durability and consistency to have any value, even then the Orioles would have to eat a lot of money.

Led by Mychal Givens, the Baltimore bullpen could actually be alright. It won’t mean much to the team winning baseball games, but it could provide a few more trade chips in late-July. Tanner Scott, Miguel Castro and Paul Fry could all be worth something as competitive teams fill out their relief corps down the stretch.


Former top 100 prospect Chance Sisco has to get most of the time behind the plate in 2019. Sisco walked in over 10% of his minor league plate appearances, which made him one of the most promising young catchers in the sport a couple of years ago. He’s one of the few players in the organisation who could be part of the next halfway good Orioles team.

Outlook

It’s bleak. Really bleak. The Orioles will not be anywhere near competitive again for a long time and could have another historically bad season in 2019.

Three of Baltimore’s top four prospects; Yusniel Diaz, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays, could appear in the Majors in 2019. Their development and adaptation to facing big league pitching is crucial.

If we’re looking for a positive to end this on: The Orioles may well have the number one overall pick in the 2020 draft.

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About Sam Cox 335 Articles
Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play.

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