The good news for the Orioles on Sunday was that Ryan Mountcastle followed up his first major league home run with his second career home run.
The bad news was that, for the second time in the series, the Orioles surrendered a late lead as the Blue Jays walked off against the Orioles, this time for a 6-5 win in the 9th inning. And the extra knife twist was, and is, that the trade deadline is now just hours away.
The Orioles (14-19) are clear sellers now, having lost 11 of 13 games. And with pitchers Mychal Givens and Tommy Milone already gone, the deadline is always a uniquely difficult time for selling clubs. The walk-off loss didn’t help.
“I think that there was so much swirling about it, so much talk about it, that everybody was prepared in case that did happen,” manager Brandon Hyde said of the Givens trade. “It was tough to say goodbye to Mike this afternoon and wish him well in Denver. He’s going with a really good group of guys there. So I really wish him the best of luck.”
Mountcastle’s home runs were the highlight of the afternoon, as the young left fielder showcased his power in a major way with his first two big league home runs. And thankfully, they were able to track down the first home run ball for him.
“It’s been awesome,” Mountcastle said. “Just to be finally able to live out the dream has really been a cool experience so far, and to have a pretty decent day today was definitely a breath of fresh air.”
But Mountcastle’s afternoon was but a lone bright spot of a tough, but necessary, afternoon for the organization.
First, the Orioles shipped out Milone to the Braves, then followed with a trade of Givens to the Rockies. The Givens trade was a painful one to make, as he’s been an Oriole since 2015 — and has drawn interest since general manager Mike Elias was hired in 2018.
Elias commented that as soon as he was hired, he began to get calls about whether or not Givens was available. Only Sunday did he find a trade package that worked.
“Those guys were huge parts of the club this year and were helpful,” Elias said. “Mychal’s an impact reliever and he’s somebody who has been an Oriole for so long, and as I told him today, he’s going to be an Oriole for life. He’s going to be part of this organization well after he retires. He’s meant a lot to our organization on and off the field for a really long time, and we’re going to miss him. Tommy was just a great fit for us this year, had a rejuvenating kind of season. Great guy to have in the clubhouse.”
The two infielders the Orioles received in the Givens trade, Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra, drew rave reviews from Elias. Vavra will report to the alternate site in Bowie, while Nevin is penciled in as the organization’s starting first baseman at Triple-A Norfolk next season.
But the Orioles still have another gameday with tradewinds swirling. First pitch of tomorrow’s series finale against the Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:07 pm. The trade deadline is at 4pm.
Elias said that the group is still active in talks, which could lead to the departure of a few more veteran players on the big league roster as the Orioles look to continue to add young talent to the organization.
While Elias is hopeful that the Orioles’ system, which he said was a consensus top 10-to-12 system in baseball, is building the talent he thinks it is, there are still a few more deadline days like Sunday — with a selling team trading off parts — to be endured.
“I think we’ve seen some, it looks like exhaustion the last couple of days, and I think that some of our activities leading into the trade deadline put our bullpen in a bad spot,” Elias said. “That’s just part of it when you’re selling going into the trade deadline. It’s usually a rough few days from a roster standpoint and a bullpen standpoint and everything. It’s just kind of how it is.”