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These Orioles have already defied the odds.  By trading Trey Mancini, general manager Mike Elias challenged them to do it again.

Until proven otherwise, the Orioles, a winning team within reach of a playoff berth, are sellers.

In their first summer trade, the Orioles traded Trey Mancini, their oldest player, to the Houston Astros for a pair of well-regarded pitching prospects in a three-team deal also involving the Tampa Bay Rays. Hours later, Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers to move over .500 and less than 2 1/2 games from a playoff spot.

In offering an explanation for a seller’s move, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias stressed that he doubted Baltimore’s surprising performance would continue in the final two months of the season. all the time Mancini’s contract guaranteed he would remain an Oriole. Instead, it sought to maximize the chances of success in future seasons rather than the current one.

“I think the .500 record that we have, the last two month wins that we have, the momentum that we have, has made this decision a lot harder and a trade deadline a lot more complicated than it is. would have been or that one of the previous ones was,” Elias said. “But at the end of the day, I have to tie my decisions to the outlook and the odds for this year. We have a wildcard hit right now. But it’s not a chance that we’ll win a wildcard.

“We all have different ways of looking at it, and the moves we make that can boost our chances for next season and the season beyond and that beyond are something we have to keep considering despite the huge progress. what our players have done this year.”

Indeed, Elias questioned the fruitfulness of making sacrifices for a playoff push in 2022 when front office calculations deem it unlikely. It’s unclear what the organization’s internal modeling suggests of the Orioles’ playoff odds, though public odds offer varying degrees of hope. gives a more than 1 in 5 chance of a playoff berth. Baseball Prospects’ PECOTA projection system has about 13%. FanGraphs gives the Orioles a 2.7% chance of making the playoffs.

But consider that those odds have improved immeasurably from the 0% odds Baltimore received three months ago. With months of straight wins and a 31-21 record since June 1, the Orioles have risen from the basement of the American League East and are squarely in contention.

They have already far exceeded what was expected of them; Monday’s win was their 52nd of the year, tying their tally from last season. By trading Mancini, a player beloved by the fan base and a staple in the middle of manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup, Elias effectively challenges the Orioles to overcome another set of odds.

“Part of the reason why our division is so difficult is that the teams in our division have done such a spectacular job over the last decade of balancing present, future, short-term and long-term considerations with their movements. “, Elias said. “It’s important for us to do the same things. When a player is a free agent in nine weeks, you need to consider opportunities to bring in some very promising talent that has the potential to contribute many years down the road.

When asked how he justifies transferring a beloved player to a fan base that has lost many in the rebuild as a turn seems to be turned, Elias pointed to “a lot of very difficult decisions that we allowed us to progress”. But none were as difficult as moving Mancini, an exchange Elias described as “bittersweet” and “very emotional for me” as it repeatedly suggested the Orioles could sue Mancini if he reaches free agency this winter. The contract Mancini signed with Baltimore during spring training included a $10 million mutual option for 2023, the team portion of which — and the accompanying buyout — now rests in the hands of the Astros.

In return, the Orioles received a pair of young pitchers in Seth Johnson and Chayce McDermott who MLB Pipeline immediately ranked among the organization’s top twelve prospects, continuing to stockpile the “elite talent pool” that Elias had. promised when he was hired. But rather than gamble the chances of Johnson or McDermott becoming contributors to future Baltimore teams, Elias could have tried to improve the 2022 team’s chances of making the playoffs, both by retaining Mancini and adding other trades. Of course, he can still do the latter before Tuesday’s deadline at 6 p.m. EST.

“I am extremely proud and satisfied with what our players and coaches have done this year,” Elias said. “I can’t wait to see what they will continue to do. But at the end of the day, it’s my job to keep the organization healthy. There are trade-offs there. In everything we do, there are pros and cons. And I believe that after doing this job, the overall organization is stronger.

And his playoff chances have weakened. Now it’s up to those players and coaches to overcome the odds once again.


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