With just over 10 days to go until the MLB Trade Deadline, the Orioles are in a unique spot.
They’re 12-12 with a four-game set against the fifth-place Red Sox upcoming, followed by seven games against the Rays and Blue Jays. With so many divisional games still on the way, the Orioles could get more clarity about the final month of their season. Or, they could be in the same spot, hovering around .500.
The Orioles have had a better start than statistical and human projections could have thought of before the season began, and unless they begin to fall off a cliff, it would take a serious fall to take them out of complete contention before the deadline on Aug. 31.
While a playoff appearance still isn’t likely with more than half the season to play, the Orioles will have to decide in the next week-and-a-half if they’re willing to sell with, statistically, a shot at the playoffs. Meaning, every game until that point can be a referendum on the Orioles selling, or standing pat.
The organization has shown its not afraid to sell already this season too, as they shipped relief pitcher Richard Bleier to the Marlins in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak in Miami.
Now, the focus will seemingly turn to starting pitcher Alex Cobb, who after every solid outing, will lead to more trade speculation.
Cobb has pitched well this season in five starts, allowing a 3.76 ERA in 26 ⅓ innings pitched to go along with a 1.139 WHIP and a 4.66 FIP. Should the Orioles look to move someone at the deadline, Cobb figures to be a top target on the team as he’s under contract for this and next year.
Trading him, however, won’t be easy.
Only players on a team’s 60-man roster are eligible to be traded in the 2020 season, meaning unless Cobb is traded for a top prospect — which is highly unlikely — or a player at or near the major league level. If a team wants to part with a piece they’ve classified as important to the organization, the Orioles will certainly listen, but it’s impossible to know what interest the Orioles will gather for Cobb.
If the Orioles stay at or near .500 headed into September, general manager Mike Elias will have a difficult decision to make about the team’s future. If they keep their original long-term vision in mind, selling off some talent that has performed well thus far is an easy decision to make. Otherwise, selling talent like Cobb, or shortstop Jose Iglesias, or relief pitcher Mychal Givens might be a tough proposition for an organization suddenly in contention — even if it is the best long-term option for the franchise.