3 Trades That Would Put the Orioles Over the Top to Win it All

Here are three trades that the Baltimore Orioles should make at the deadline if they want to be the clear favorites to win the World Series.

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: Mason Miller #19 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Kansas City Royals at the Oakland Coliseum on June 19, 2024 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Royals 5-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Orioles should win the World Series this year. It is that cut and dry.

Yes, there are some other great teams that are standing in their way, particularly the New York Yankees in their own division. While the Yankees have slid in the standings lately, these two AL East powerhouses have been neck and neck in the division all year, with both teams on pace to win over 100 games.

Baltimore has an MVP candidate in Gunnar Henderson, who might be destined to finish runner-up to Aaron Judge, but is quickly establishing himself as the best shortstop in all of baseball. Henderson is on pace to clear 50 home runs this year, which would make him only the second shortstop in MLB history to accomplish that feat (Alex Rodriguez).

The Orioles have seven hitters who have already reached double-digits in home runs, and outfielder Cedric Mullins is one away. As a team, the Orioles are leading MLB with 146 home runs, and they are top five in pretty much every offensive category.

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Meanwhile, they have the best catcher in baseball in Adley Rutschman, who helps anchor both a great pitching staff that currently has the second-best ERA in the American League.

Baltimore already made their big trade before the start of the season, landing their new ace in Corbin Burnes, who has been everything they could have asked for. With Burnes in place, the Orioles really don’t NEED anything at this year’s deadline, as they could win it all with exactly what they have in-house.

Still, that does not mean they should not be aggressive at the deadline. Teams rarely get the opportunity to be in this position, and with the deepest farm system in baseball, the Orioles can make trades that they don’t even feel (like dealing Joey Ortiz) to help put their team over the top to win a World Series this year.

Today I will be stepping into the shoes of GM Mike Elias and plotting out a three-part plan to take this roster and turn it into one that is fit to become the prohibitive favorite to win the World Series.

All stats were taken prior to play on July 9th.

Step One: Clear the Path for the Top Prospects

The Baltimore Orioles don’t need to trade for any position players at this year’s deadline. In fact, it is due to a surplus of position players that some great prospects are putting together video game numbers in Triple-A Norfolk, that can’t sniff the active MLB roster.

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Heston Kjerstad was part of that group, but he is finally getting run on the big league roster after Kyle Stowers was optioned to Triple-A last month. Stowers has struggled whenever he has been given big league opportunities over the last three years, and yet he has a solid .851 OPS and 16 home runs in 50 Triple-A games.

Stowers is one of many Orioles players who would probably get the chance to start on a lot of different teams, or at least have a role as a fourth outfielder. Blocked for the foreseeable future, Stowers is a player who you can throw into any trade as a sweetener and not feel it one bit.

Meanwhile on the MLB roster, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Jorge Mateo and Ramon Urias are all players with multiple years of service time under their belt who are underperforming so far this season.

Mateo and Urias have both factored into the infield mix, where they have each split time with Jordan Westburg. For Mateo, that has been a timeshare at second base; for Urias, a timeshare at third. Of the two, Mateo probably has more trade value, as he brings a speed component that Urias does not. He stole 30+ bases in each of the last two seasons, and has 12 this year.

While Mateo has more trade value, he also brings more value to the big league roster in a bench role. Whether Mateo or Urias is removed from the equation, the Orioles should make a move soon, as they have better options waiting in Triple-A. Namely, Just Baseball’s No. 8 overall prospect in Coby Mayo.

Mayo is having a fantastic season, as he has hit .309/.393/.651 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs in 63 games played in Triple-A. The 22-year-old has still yet to make his MLB debut, but he may soon force the Orioles’ hand.

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Jordan Westburg has been amazing for Baltimore this year, as he earned a place in the All-Star game as an injury replacement yesterday. If Mayo were promoted, he could settle in at third base, and Westburg could move into an everyday role at second without having to bounce back and forth anymore.

Urias is out of options, so the Orioles would either have to DFA him, or find a trade partner who is interested. Again, Mateo would have more value on the market, but the Orioles are trying to win a World Series here.

When you look towards the outfield, the Orioles have two veterans who might not be part of their long-term future with Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays. Mullins is now three years removed from his 30-30 season back in 2021, having seen a real decline in his offensive production.

The 29-year-old former switch-hitter is batting .216/.260/.378, with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 82 games played this year. His .638 OPS and 80 wRC+ both rank 11th on the Orioles among hitters with a minimum of 100 PAs in 2024. Mullins does however lead the team in stolen base with 16 and still plays good defense in center field.

If the Orioles dangled Mullins at the deadline, they could drum up interest among contending teams. While the Orioles could get better internally by clearing Mullins from their outfield rotation, another team may be in desperate need of someone who could play a quality center field, especially with the ignitability of a former All-Star in a new situation for a playoff push.

In my role playing Mike Elias today, we are going to put the Mullins trade chip in our holster and utilize him in one of our future trades to make this 2024 team better. It might even be as a piece in a larger three-team deal. Stay tuned…

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Now speaking of another current big leaguer who could hold value at the deadline, Austin Hays is a piece the Orioles could shop instead of Mullins if they wanted to hang onto their center fielder.

Over the past three seasons, Hays has been a really solid outfielder for the Orioles. He has hit at least 16 home runs and has driven in at least 60 runs each season. Last year marked a career-year, where Hays hit .275/.325/.444, with a 112 wRC+ and was worth 2.5 fWAR.

Hays won’t set the world on fire, but he’s shown the ability to be a dependable starting outfielder for a big league club. While Hays has struggled in the power department so far this year (3 HR), he has at least been able to crush left-handed pitching.

Across his first 55 at-bats vs southpaws in 2024, Hays is hitting .364/.407/.545, with a 169 wRC+. Now on the contrary, the right-handed Hays has hit just .200/.267/.338, with a 73 wRC+.

If the Orioles want to keep Hays, they can simply platoon him with Heston Kjerstad, limiting his exposure to right-handed pitching. Ultimately, the Orioles have to decide which of Mullins or Hays is more valuable to them, but either way, one of them should be dealt at this year’s deadline.

Especially since they are each just one year away from free agency in 2026, which would only amplify their trade value for teams in the Wild Card race who may be more averse to trading prospects for a player that is a rental at the deadline.

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Trade 1: Trade Cedric Mullins to the St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals check all the boxes as a trade partner for the Baltimore Orioles. They are in the Wild Card race and could use reinforcements, but they also can’t have complete confidence they will outlast in the marathon of the 2024 season. Getting a rental might not be smart for a team who could miss the playoffs, but with Mullins, that is not an issue.

With Tommy Edman hurt, and Dylan Carlson’s struggles, the Cardinals have had to rely on Michael Siani a lot in center field. Siani can fly and makes some great catches in the outfield, but he hasn’t hit a lick since being in the big leagues.

Across his first 83 games, Siani has hit .233/.266/.312, with two home runs and 10 stolen bases. He has been worth 11 OAA, but the offense has left a lot to be desired. When it comes to wRC+ and fWAR, the Cardinals rank dead-last at center field this year, having gotten the worst production in baseball among all 30 tearms.

Mullins would give the Cardinals another veteran bat they could slot in the lineup, who can still help manufacture a run with his speed whenever he gets on base. The best part for the Cardinals, it shouldn’t take some huge package of prospects to get a deal done. One intriguing chip could be enough for the Orioles to move on and send Mullins to another winning situation.

The Return: RHP Tekoah Roby

In our preseason ranking of the top prospects in the Cardinals system, Tekoah Roby ranked at No. 4.

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A third round pick out of high school, Roby was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2020. Three years later, he one of the prospects traded to the Cardinals in exchange for Jordan Montgomery at last year’s deadline.

The 22-year-old has dealt with various injuries throughout his career and has not shown consistent command of his secondaries. Still, he entered the 2024 season ranked on multiple top 100 lists because of his youth and upside of being a middle of the rotation starter if he can build up a workload and find some consistency.

In Roby, the Orioles would be acquiring a prospect that is a bit of a lottery ticket, but one teams would get excited enough about that you could shop him in different deals. If nothing else, Roby is a project they can work to develop, who fits a longer timeline than a player in Mullins who may be taking time away from better big leaguers right now.

Step Two: Fortify the Starting Rotation

The Baltimore Orioles have been dealt some pretty massive blows to their rotation in the first half of this season. They lost John Means to a second Tommy John surgery, and Kyle Bradish continues to spend time on the Injured List with elbow problems of his own.

Luckily for the Orioles, they swung their biggest trade of the season prior to Opening Day, landing ace Corbin Burnes.

So far, Burnes has been everything the Orioles expected and more. He was named an All-Star in the American League on his first try, and is looking like a real Cy Young candidate.

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Meanwhile Grayson Rodriguez has become a solid frontline pitcher in his second season, after enduring an uneven rookie campaign in 2023. Behind those two, the Orioles have pieced things together with Albert Suarez, Cole Irvin, Dean Kremer and most recently top prospect Cade Povich.

Still, this rotation needs a stable innings-eater to be their number three in the worst possible way.

Trade 2: Make a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Chris Bassitt

When looking over the top 10 starting pitchers who could be dealt at this year’s deadline, Blue Jays’ starter Chris Bassitt checks a lot of boxes for the type of the pitcher that the Orioles should be targeting.

Landing Garrett Crochet sounds really sexy on paper, but do the Orioles really want to gamble on a converted reliever being able to pitch deep into October?

Baltimore needs stability, and Bassitt is the type of pitcher who you can at least count on to take the ball every fifth day and give your team a chance. Especially playing in front of an offense as good as Baltimore’s, Bassitt can wear it for the bullpen at times and might end up pitching himself back into a game if the offense catches up.

While the Orioles are looking to win now, there window is not closing any time soon. Bassitt is not signed to a long-term deal, but he is under contract for 2025. At $22 million, Bassitt is not cheap, but 180+ innings a year from a quality starter is worth every penny.

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Since 2021, Bassitt is one of 16 pitchers who have thrown over 600 innings and he has done so while never pitching to an ERA over 3.60. Last year, Bassitt pitched to that 3.60 ERA, but did so in exactly 200 innings of work.

This year, Bassitt is again talking the ball every fifth day, pitching to a 3.43 ERA in 18 starts and 102.1 innings pitched. Sliding him into the middle of the Orioles rotation for the next two playoff runs would do so much for this team.

Note: I have long loved this fit between Bassitt and the Orioles. Back in November of 2022, I made it my prediction for where he would land in his free agent profile.

The Return: OF Jud Fabian, RHP Juan Nuñez

If Baltimore needed the Blue Jays to eat down the contract, they could sweeten the package in a trade with better prospects to get some cash kicked in the deal. Hopefully with new ownership, the Orioles won’t need to resort to that.

In this proposed trade, the Orioles are sending top prospect Jud Fabian to the Blue Jays as the real headlining piece to get the deal done. Ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Orioles system prior to the start of the 2024 season, Fabian would likely be a top-10 prospect in most other systems.

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The 23-year-old former Florida Gator was drafted as the 67th overall pick back in 2022, and is currently playing in Double-A for the Orioles. Fabian is a good athlete who is a strong defender in center field. He still needs to work on his hit tool, but there is plus power that can be tapped into as he continues to develop.

Across 120 games played between High-A and Double-A last year, Fabian hit 24 home runs and stole 31 bases. This year, he has 13 home runs and eight stolen bases, while posting an OPS of .740 through his first 68 games played.

With many outfield prospects who the Orioles likely value more, Fabian is another prospect who they would not even feel the loss of in their system, but for another team, he could be a good enough piece to swing a deal.

To sweeten the pot for the Blue Jays, we are also going to include Juan Nuñez in this trade.

Nuñez is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, who the Orioles acquired in the Jorge Lopez trade a few deadlines ago. Nuñez is currently on the IL in High-A, but pitched to a 2.45 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings pitched so far this season.

Step Three: Land the Best Reliever in Baseball

The Baltimore Orioles don’t necessarily have a problem with their bullpen, but every contender is looking to add some arms for the stretch run at this time of the year. The Orioles bullpen has pitched to a 3.80 ERA, which ranks 13th among MLB teams.

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Between Craig Kimbrel, Danny Coulombe, Jacob Webb and Yennier Cano, the Orioles have four relievers who have thrown at least 25 innings this year and have pitched to a sub 3.00 ERA.

Kimbrel has filled the shoes of injured closer Felix Bautista remarkably well this year, nothching 23 saves in 27 attempts, all while pithcing to a 2.10 ERA with an outstanding 38.5% strikeout rate. He has been getting even better as the year wears on, and should be trusted to be the Orioles closer for the rest of this season.

With that said, it doesn’t hurt to get another relief ace who is capable of locking down games, and one who could potentially put out fires at any time the Orioles need them to during the playoffs. This is where Oakland Athletics’ All-Star Mason Miller comes into play.

Trade 3: Pull off a blockbuster with the Oakland A’s for Mason Miller

Back in 2016, the then Cleveland Indians made a trade with the New York Yankees to require standout left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Cleveland already had a good closer in place with Cody Allen, but wanted to fortify their bullpen for the stretch run.

Miller played a huge role for the Indians down the stretch, pitching to a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings during the regular season, as Cleveland won the AL Central. Then in the playoffs, Miller was lights out until the World Series, working six scorless appearanes in the Guaridans path to the AL pennant.

In the ALCS, Miller worked 7 2/3 scoreless frames, with 14 strikeouts and zero walks. He was named the ALCS MVP for his efforts.

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Fast forward to 2024, and Mason Miller is the top relief arm who could be dealt at the deadline. The 25-year-old flamethrower has pitched to a 2.39 ERA this season and is striking out an MLB-best 45.6% of the batters he has faced.

Being able to call on Miller whenever there was a high-leverage spot against the best hitters in a playoff game would be incredibly valuable to the Orioles. Even better, Miller won’t be a free agent until 2030, so they would have him to pair with Bautista for years to come.

Now because of his immense value and team control, there are very few teams who could conceivably put together a trade package to land Miller, but the Orioles are uniquely prepared to pull off such a blockbuster.

The Return: LHP Cade Povich, OF Enrique Bradfield Jr, OF Dylan Beavers and IF Connor Norby

When we broke down Mason Miller’s trade value at the beginning of June, our mock included both Beavers and Norby, but was headlined by Heston Kjerstad. Now a little over a month later, Kjerstad is playing a role on the big league roster.

So instead of getting Kjerstad, the headliner for the A’s is outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., along with starting pitcher Cade Povich. Starting with Povich, the 24-year-old left-hander pitched to a 3.18 ERA in 11 stats in Triple-A this year, with 75 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings pitched.

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Across his first six big league starts, Povich has a 6.51 ERA, but that was just recently inflated in his last start when the Athletics (funny enough) piled on eight runs against him. Remember, the Orioles are acquiring Bassitt at the deadline as well, so dealing Povich won’t hurt their 2024 rotation.

When it comes to top 100 prospects, Bradfield is the prize of this trade. Ranked at No. 72 in our latest update, Bradfield is a toolsy center fielder who the Athletics can dream on.

The 22-year-old was a first round pick just last year, drafted 17th overall by the Orioles. In his first full season, Bradfield is hitting .268/.347/.359, with a .706 OPS. Those numbers don’t jump out to you, but his 41 stolen bases certainly do, especially considering how he also uses that speed out in center field.

Looking back at the other trades the Athletics have made for their star players, they typically target volume in these types of deals. This might not be the package littered with top 100 prospects that some have come to expect for Mason Miller, but they are getting four quality pieces who could all be big leauge pieces for them in the future.

Speaking of high-probabilty big leaguers, Connor Norby would immediately slot onto the A’s big league roster after this deal, giving some instant gratification to making the move. Norby is another blocked Orioles prospect, who is hitting .292/.378/.517, with 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 71 games played at Triple-A this season.

The last piece heading to Oakland in this deal is outfielder Dylan Beavers.

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Another athletic outfielder, Beavers was ranked No. 9 in our preseason rankings among Orioles top prospects. The 22-year-old is hitting .240/.338/.415, with nine home runs and 15 stolen bases across 69 games played in Double-A this year.

By making this deal, the Orioles land Miller, but get to hold onto Jackson Holliday, Samuel Basallo and Coby Mayo, their top three prospects. Holding onto most of the blue chips, while being able to pull of this level of a blockbuster trade is a luxury that only one team in baseball has, and that is why they are the perfect trade partner for the A’s.

Oakland would be getting four of the Orioles top 10 prospects, with Norby (No. 6), Bradfield (No. 7), Beavers (No. 9) and Povich (No. 10). If that wasn’t enough to get a deal done, how about a little TK Roby as a sweetner?

I told you we would loop Mullins into a three-team trade, where the return the Orioles get on their center fielder can help them in another deal. The Orioles can reroute the Mullins return (Roby) in the Bassitt trade instead if that deal needs to be pushed across the finish line.

If the Orioles wanted to, they could even trade Kyle Stowers in this deal with the A’s, just to throw more stuff in the package to get the deal across the finish line.

What Trade Capital Should the Orioles Spend at This Deadline?

So across our series of three different trades, the Orioles have been able to clear up a logjam on their roster when it comes to their position player core, while adding an arm to the middle of their rotation and a relief ace who could become their top weapon come October.

To acquire these two arms, the Orioles traded a total of six prospects and one veteran big leaguer.

Orioles Trade: OF Cedric Mullins, OF Jud Fabian, RHP Juan Nuñez, LHP Cade Povich, OF Enrique Bradfield Jr, OF Dylan Beavers and IF Connor Norby

Orioles Receive: RHP Mason Miller, RHP Chris Bassitt

If the Orioles want to hang onto Mullins for the stretch run this year, they don’t have to deal him, but the point of this exercise was to show how many options the Orioles have at their disposal. They can leverage their MLB surplus on the market, while having more prospect capital than anyone to get the big trades done.

When you look at the six prospects who are getting traded, the Orioles are clearly sacrificing a lot of control for two pitchers that they don’t absolutely need. Miller in particular is going to cost a ton of prospect capital, to the point where he probably won’t get traded.

But the Orioles are a team that has the capital to pull of that kind of trade, as well as any other Elias and his staff can dream up over the next few weeks.

Here are the trade assets we discussed across this deep dive into their roster and farm system.

Moveable Prospects: OF Jud Fabian, RHP Juan Nuñez, LHP Cade Povich, OF Enrique Bradfield Jr, OF Dylan Beavers and IF Connor Norby

Moveable MLB Players: OF Cedric Mullins, OF Austin Hays, OF Kyle Stowers, IF Jorge Mateo, IF Ramon Urias

The Orioles may not need to do much to fine-tune their roster to be able to win a World Series, as they could roll with what they have and get the job done. Still, this is a franchise that is under new ownership, with the chance to reward that investment instantaneously.

And it is a franchise that has not won the World Series since 1983. How better to indoctrinate yourself to a city then breaking a four-plus decade long drought in your first season?

This Orioles team is one worth investing in, both when it comes to the money spent on players and the prospect capital they are willing spend to put their roster over the top.

Bassitt would give the Orioles a starting pitcher they can go to the bank with over the next 16 months, hedging a lot of the injury risk that is presently in their rotation. Meanwhile, Miller is the type of pitcher that can get the big outs that matter the most when everything is on the line.

Having Miller for not only this playoff run, but also for the next five beyond this season is worth every bit of what the Orioles are trading to make this dream team a reality.

When it comes to the deadline, there is no team more intersting to watch this year than the Baltimore Orioles. Once a conservative franchise that was probably too risk-averse, the Orioles showed aggresion to land Burnes prior to the start of the season.

Now is the perfect time to continue to push some chips to the center of the table for the 2024 season. Especially since they will still have plenty of chips left over, regardless of the deals they make at the deadline. The time is now Mike Elias, go get a ring.