Baltimore Orioles: Updates On Dylan Bundy And Jonathan Villar Trades
By Nick Stevens
Per a Wednesday morning report, a trade involving Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy is “getting close” to happening.
While swarms of people across the country hop in their cars or catch a flight to head off to their Thanksgiving destinations on Wednesday, a handful of Major League Baseball teams are keeping the Hot Stove flames burning with a flurry of moves this morning. The Baltimore Orioles haven’t made a move today, yet, but a major rumor has emerged.
First reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal a few days ago, the Orioles plan to shop starting pitcher Dylan Bundy this offseason, news that wasn’t earth-shattering or unknown. Everyone with a pulse on the current Orioles roster is available for trade this winter, for the right price.
It now appears that this initial rumor has some teeth. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that a trade involving Dylan Bundy is not “imminent” but is “getting close.”
We have discussed Bundy’s improvements this season a few times already, but they are worth noting again. Bundy altered his pitch usage as the season went along, using his unimpressive fastball less often and mixing in more changeups and curveballs, two pitches which he had good success with in 2019.
Beyond his increased walk rate, Bundy a healthy strikeout rate of more then 9/9 IP, lowered his ERA from 5.45 to 4.79, slashed his home run rate from 2.15/9 IP to 1.61/9 IP after leading the league in longballs allowed in 2018, and increased his groundball rate by more than 7% (41.5%).
Formerly heralded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Bundy is still viewed through this lens by many fans. Truth is, Dylan Bundy made great strides in 2019 and with the right plan in place and coaches behind him, there’s still more room to grow, despite his declining fastball. But he’s no more than a backend starter at this point.
As a back of the rotation starter, Bundy can provide value to a team and 160+ innings of work. He’s coming off a season in which he was worth 2.5 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs. Just short of his career-high of 2.8 back in 2017. There’s also two more years of control and a projected 2020 salary of around $6 million. Plenty of teams are likely to be in the mix for his services.
Could Wednesday morning’s trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres shed some light on what kind of return the Orioles could get for Bundy? Milwaukee sent former Orioles prospect Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham to San Diego for LHP Eric Lauer and infielder Luis Urias.
The Padres seem to be down on Urias, who’s hit tool has been highly regarded as one of the best in minor league baseball in the past. Lauer is also a soft-tossing lefty who put very similar numbers to Bundy in 2019.
I could see the Orioles throwing in a prospect or two they may not be as high on anymore to sweeten the return in this potential deal for Bundy.
Will the Baltimore Orioles trade Jonathan Villar?
Later in the afternoon, Feinsand also reported that the Orioles have been actively attempting to trade Jonathan Villar before the December 2nd deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players contracts, but their attempts have been unsuccessful.
This is the one storyline I’m eager to see come to a conclusion soon. I’m also a bit shocked that there are no takers for Villar who is coming off a 4.0 fWAR season in which he stole 40 bases and hit a career-high 24 home runs.
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Non-tendering Villar, despite his projected $10 million salary for next season, shouldn’t be an option on December 2nd. I’m all aboard the rebuild and support a lot of the moves already made by this organization, but if no one takes Villar this week, paying him his salary and plugging him back in the lineup should be the only option.
You can always try again at the trade deadline after injuries have taken their toll around the league.
As for Bundy, I wouldn’t be thrilled to see him go, but moving him now makes a lot of sense while he has team control and is on the up. Although, if the Orioles are set to move him, you have to wonder if this means they just don’t see much more in terms of improvements coming for Bundy.
We’re talking about a Mike Elias led team with the likes of Sig Mejdal and company leading the way in terms player development. If they don’t believe they can get much more out of him, can anyone?
**Editor’s Note– Since the publishing of this article, Jonathan Villar has been placed on waivers.
Ok, it’s time to go enjoy round one of Thanksgiving with the family. Safe travels to all of you in Birdland, discuss the potential move or non-movement of Villar with friends and family, and I will see you all on the other side. Happy Thanksgiving!