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Orioles Need To Include Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy Before Trade Talks Can Get Serious

June 25, 2018
It wasn't planned this way, but there are currently more short-term rentals available at Oriole Park at Camden Yards than Ocean City, Md., -- or "downy ocean, hon'" if you insist on local slang translation.

The bad news is there are probably more good deals available at Maryland's favorite summer vacation spot than at OPACY, where the universal translation is simple: Trading short-term rentals will not be enough to lay the solid foundation needed for the Orioles' inevitable rebuild.

There's no question that shortstop Manny Machado and closer Zach Britton are the most attractive trade chips the Orioles have to offer, with center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Brach intriguing possibilities, but even with optimum return they aren't likely to bring  the kind of blue-chip prospects necessary for a quick jump start. 

If the Orioles are really serious about making a splash with this reboot, they have to be willing to put young right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy into the discussion. For a team that's been looking for pitching for at least a decade, the thought of trading somebody from the top of the rotation might sound ludicrous, but it will be necessary if the Orioles intend to make more than cosmetic changes.

The market, while surely active, might not even be high enough to entertain "best available" options for any of the short-term rentals, especially Machado. The July 31st non-waiver deadline is right around the baseball corner and might not afford enough time to bring a suitable return.

If the Orioles are going to make a serious effort to re-boot, and they should, then they have to be willing to deal from the limited strength they have, either now or during the offseason. Pitching hasn't been considered a team strength for a long time, but there's no question that from a long-range trading standpoint, Gausman and Bundy offer the best chance of a significant return.

Most scouts like Gausman's upside over Bundy, who gets high marks for makeup but a lower grade because his velocity never returned after Tommy John surgery. Because this is the season known for short-term rentals, any discussion on possible long-term benefits may have to wait until the offseason, but if you insert either Gausman or Bundy into the discussion it would get a lot more attention.

Sooner or later, if the Orioles are going to make a significant splash, Gausman and/or Bundy, and possibly Mychal Givens, will have to be in the picture. Short-term rentals may provide the groundwork, but it will take a lot more to build a foundation.

If he's not traded, Machado would at least get a qualifying offer (probably in the $19 million range) that brings draft choice compensation. Whether the Orioles would consider making a qualifying offer to Jones makes for interesting discussion, but they almost certainly wouldn't make such an offer to Britton, as the payout would be excessive, especially for a closer on a team focused on rebuilding. 

As a 10-and-5 player, Jones has the right of refusal for any trade before the July 31 deadline, but given the possibility of finishing the year with a contender and a return to postseason play, it might be an option the face of the franchise would want to consider. As a gesture of goodwill for what he has meant to the franchise, the O's might agree to a modest return to give him that opportunity. 

Absent that possibility, they might also consider extending Jones a qualifying offer, which would offer a nice raise but severely restrict his free-agent possibilities. As one who has made a round-trip in the transition process, in addition to being a 10-and-5 player, Jones has earned some special consideration when it comes to his -- and the club's -- future.

Regardless of the direction taken in the next two months, however, it will be window dressing compared to what happens next. Short-term rentals won't provide long-term solutions. 

Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox