Orioles Wise to Remain Sellers and Invest in Prospects amid Latest MLB Trade Rumors

Erik BeastonDecember 20, 2022

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Jorge Mateo #3 of the Baltimore Orioles looks on against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 22, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Orioles outperformed preseason predictions in 2022, finishing above .500 with a 83-79 record, and if their approach to this offseason is any indication, the club appears poised to lean heavier on the formula that got them there.

The O's are reportedly listening to trade offers for Jorge Mateo, the talented utility player with an ability to fill in at shortstop, second base or in the outfield, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

Birds Watcher @BirdsWatcherFS

Mondays are lame. Jorge Mateo's defense is not.<a href="https://t.co/pa6NbzLtxD">pic.twitter.com/pa6NbzLtxD</a>

His plate discipline was nearly nonexistent in 2022, when he struck out a staggering 147 times. What he does offer potential suitors is the athleticism that allowed him to tally a career-high 35 stolen bases this past season. That the 27-year-old is an above-average defender and really shined in that area only enhances his appeal to clubs.

Mateo is the latest in a long line of players the Orioles have brought on board for little, given a platform to showcase their ability and then entertain offers based on the potential shown in Baltimore.

Elsewhere in Major League Baseball's free-agency period, the Birds have remained fairly quiet. They signed versatile defender Adam Frazier, formerly of the Pirates, Padres and Mariners, and brought Mychal Givens back into the fold two years after trading him to Colorado.

Orioles on MASN @masnOrioles

After trading Mychal Givens in 2020, Mike Elias said the reliever would be "an Oriole for life."<br><br>Now Givens is back in orange and black. <a href="https://t.co/PyzgPRqLkg">https://t.co/PyzgPRqLkg</a> <a href="https://t.co/Dx20Dvj59o">pic.twitter.com/Dx20Dvj59o</a>

Neither of those acquisitions broke the bank nor filled a hole on the team's roster. The Orioles resisted the urge to jump at any of the top-tier free agents available this offseason, with their only real link being to pitcher Carlos Rodón, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. That connection fell apart when it became clear that the eventual Yankee signee wanted a longer-term contract and would get a monster deal from one of the more prominent free-agency wheeler and dealers.

And why wouldn't they?

The Orioles bounced back from one of their worst seasons ever in 2021 in one year, thanks to the emergence of 2019 draft picks Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.

Jordan Mountkatzle @NaturallyKatz11

Your Most Valuable Oriole is of course...Adley Rutschman<br><br>The former #1 pick has wasted no time becoming the savior of the franchise. After not debuting until May 21, he still leads the team in both walks and doubles. The O's are 59-47 when he starts and 23-31 when he doesn't. <a href="https://t.co/jgXAfzZwpL">pic.twitter.com/jgXAfzZwpL</a>

Cedric Mullins, a 2015 draft pick by the organization, went on to win the Silver Slugger Award in 2021 and gained a spot on the AL All-Star squad. He finished ninth in MVP voting.

Rougned Odor followed a different path to Baltimore, having played the majority of his career in Texas before a stop with the Yankees. He enjoyed his best batting average (.207) since 2018 last season.

Manager Brandon Hyde has put his players in a position to play winning baseball, and the front office resisted the urge to take a risk on a high-priced free agent and potentially ruin the chemistry that made the O's one of the most intriguing watches of the year.

Whether they can replicate the magic of last season in a division with a Yankees team that appears much improved and a dangerous Toronto Blue Jays squad remains to be seen.

The team knows what it is, understands what it wants to be and does not appear to be interested in jeopardizing that, even with "big fish" free agents available. If 2022 taught Hyde and general manager Mike Elias anything, they are heading in the right direction.