The Orioles haven't been shy about shaking up their starting infield early this offseason, reportedly planning to non-tender Hanser Alberto after adding Yolmer Sanchez and designating Renato Nunez for assignment.
The next step in their infield turnover was reported Wednesday night, when the Orioles traded starting shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels.
It's no surprise that the O's planned to move Iglesias eventually, but it is surprising that they found a deal they liked this quickly. Iglesias was excellent in his short stint in Baltimore, batting third in the order most of the season and enjoying a career-high 160 wRC+. But he played just 39 games, so it was a small sample size and a huge outlier compared to the rest of his career, in which he's long had a reputation as a glove-first shortstop.
He will also be turning 31 next month, meaning he fits better with a team hoping to contend in 2021 rather than the rebuilding Orioles. But teams tend to get desperate at the trade deadline and at $3.5 million Iglesias is very cheap for a player who can be relied upon for twoish Wins Above Replacement next season, so general manager Mike Elias must have been offered a deal he really likes to move Iglesias so early in the offseason.
The Orioles have added a ton of middle infield talent to their farm system in the past two MLB drafts, but with the lack of a minor league season in 2020 it's hard to tell where those prospects are in their development - even college players who can be expected to move quickly through the system.
It's not totally clear who the O's plan to replace Iglesias with, both in the batting order and at one of the game's most important positions, but the other side of trading away a player early is having plenty of time to address the hole on the roster.
Iglesias was a pleasant surprise for Orioles fans in 2020, but it was always the most likely outcome that he wouldn't be finishing 2021 in Baltimore. It's part of going through the rebuilding process, and that phase is certainly far from over in Charm City.