As the MLB trade deadline approaches, the Baltimore Orioles are firmly positioned as sellers. Could they end up moving their ace?
Last Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles activated their ace, John Means, from the 10-day injured list, where he had spent the previous 44 days due to a left shoulder strain. In his return against the Tampa Bay Rays, Means was understandably rusty, allowing five runs and suffering his third loss of the season.
Despite his rough return, Means has proven himself to be among the upper echelon of pitchers in Major League Baseball this season, which would warrant some serious attention with the MLB trade deadline lacking its typical wealth of starting pitchers who could be on the move. And, with the Orioles comfortably out of contention for yet another year, it may pique the interest of GM Mike Elias to trade the team’s ace for future assets.
As for his contract, Means is due $593,500 in 2021, making him an affordable player for championship hopefuls such as the San Diego Padres or Boston Red Sox who are hovering just below the $210,000,000 luxury tax threshold. Means’ market would seemingly be one of the more robust because of this, especially when considering how this season has heavily tested the depth of several pitching staffs across baseball.
Looking forward, Means has three years of control on his contract beyond the 2021 season. As is true with most athletes, Means’ age suggests his talent may be on the decline with his 29th birthday coming next April. If the Orioles were to trade him, this season would likely be the best time to do so in order to get the most value in a potential return package.
This season, John Means has made 14 starts for the Orioles, posting an ERA of 2.94 with an impressive 0.871 WHIP, the lowest among all starting pitchers in the American League with at least 80.0 innings pitched.