Will the Baltimore Orioles move relief pitcher Mychal Givens? Teams are interested, including the Philadelphia Phillies.
When news was released of the Boston Red Sox looking to quickly add pitching help, we discussed how much Andrew Cashner made sense and also mentioned how if Mike Elias was going to move Cashner, it would be interesting to see how creative the new general manager of the Baltimore Orioles could get.
It turns out, Elias went down a different path many Orioles fans are familiar with and was able to turn a 32-year-old pitcher on an expiring contract into two teenage prospects currently working their way through the Dominican Summer League. Should Mike Elias make more moves over the next two weeks or so before the 2019 trade deadline, expect to see much of the same type of deals.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko put out a few interesting notes this morning in his daily column on MASNsports.com. Before we look at specific players, I want to point out this quote which seems to sum up the approach Elias plans to take, moving forward. From Kubatko’s story,
"I’m hearing that the Orioles are focusing again on getting young prospects from the lower levels of the minors in any trade discussions. As they did while moving Cashner to the Red Sox."
Fantastic news. At last year’s deadline, the Orioles were able to stockpile their upper minors with talents such as Yusniel Diaz, Rylan Bannon, Dean Kremer, Dillon Tate, and others. There are some potential major league contributors among the group and the 2019 and 2020 seasons are all about figuring out whether or not that’s the case. Now, Elias is playing the long game and attempting to set up this franchise for years to come.
What few trade pieces the Orioles have won’t bring back the elite prospects, that’s where we are at. That doesn’t mean Elias can’t bring in valuable pieces.
Orioles fans now want to know, who will be the next to go. Well, per Kubatko, the Philadelphia Phillies will have scouts checking in on current O’s reliever Mychal Givens this week. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported many weeks ago that the Orioles were actively listening to offers for Givens, in the midst of a drastic downfall for the sometimes closer, sometimes set-up man for Baltimore.
Givens has been very effective since the calendar turned to June. After posting a 6.39 ERA and allowing nine walks and four home runs in 12.2 innings in May, Givens has allowed just three earned runs on six hits since June 1st. In that time, he has racked up 18 strikeouts to only three walks.
Givens has been lights out over his last four outings (three of which coming against the Tampa Bay Rays), allowing one hit and one walk while striking out six hitters. His last outing came on Saturday where he logged two perfect innings and picked up the save in game one of a doubleheader.
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While his overall numbers haven’t been noteworthy and he has had some brutal appearances, a slightly deeper look shows that a dominant reliever is still there. Putting a good defense behind Givens and having him pitch in favorable situations (which is easier to do on a roster with an actual pitching staff), Givens could thrive. I’m not talking about him turning into an All-Star reliever, but a steady presence who is, dare I say, reliable?
Given is striking out 34.5% of hitters he faces in 2019, which ranks him among the top 6% of all major league pitchers, per Baseball Savant. He’s producing a higher whiff rate with all of his pitches, compared to 2018, and many of his expected stats show a notable improvement over his actual numbers. Opponents are hitting .214 off Givens (already a respectable number for the reliever), but his xBA is .210. Four points doesn’t mean too much, a few hits getting through the defense here and there.
However, his wOBA (weighted on-base average) is .320. His xwOBA is .297, a 23 point difference. Essentially, the defense behind him in Baltimore hasn’t been helping Givens.
The Phillies are currently 48-45, 8.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and 0.5 game up on the Milwaukee Brewers for the second Wild Card spot. Their bullpen currently ranks 25th in accumulated fWAR (-0.1), holds a 4.74 team ERA, and ranks in the bottom third of the league in bullpen strikeout rate. The NL East and Wild Card race have the potential to become epic finishes and an improved bullpen for Philadelphia could provide a much-needed boost down the stretch.
Per Kubatko, the Phillies have also shown interest in Dylan Bundy, but his recent injury and one inning/seven earned run performance may hurt his value at this point. The Washington Nationals (who visit Camden Yards for a two-game set this week) are also interested in Givens, but the odds of a deal happening there are….slim.