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Guessing about tea leaves


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Trying to understand the Elias/Mejdal/Matt Blood/Chris Holt game plan going forward, there are some things that seem to be indicators. 

The Astros/Luhnow/Elias/Mejdal plan is available. People are sick of hearing about the Astros plan and that's fair. I understand. But when Elias interviewed, he pitched a plan, an outline of what he intended to do with the O's. I believe what was done in Houston is the basis for that plan. And I think Elias and Mejdal were a big part of developing the plan rather than just coming along with Luhnow.

My opinion is the following players are available in trade: Santander, Mancini, Mullins, Tate, Valdez, Matt Harvey, Jorge Lopez, Sulser, DJ Stewart, Travis Lakins, Paul Fry, Galvis, Franco, Tanner Scott and John Means. Elias has publicly said that they have internal values on all their players and when that value is met or exceeded, they make a trade. And I understand that Elias has said Means is someone you build around. Got it. But if he gets value, I think he makes a deal. 

Some are expiring contracts so the interval valuation is far less, some have greater value. If Elias is offered what he believes to be fair value, any or all are gone, starting now. The intent is not to put the best major league team on the field. The intent is to put the "elite talent pipeline" in place that has been mentioned so many times. The "harvest" is not 2022. Look no further than the lack of help at Norfolk. The harvest is 2023. That's when the O's become competitive. Bowie is Baltimore 2023, not 2022.

Dealing Santander, Mancini, Mullins, Lopez, Fry, Scott and Means would likely bring back 15 guys who were top 10's in their respective systems along with several other guys the O's value highly based on their analytics (Dylan Bundy deal) plus enough wild cards (Cashner deal) to stock the players not previously signed from Latin America. Suddenly, an "elite talent pipeline" is very possible.  

Would dealing those players gut the MLB team? Absolutely. And that's precisely what was done in Houston. Sports Guy and others complain that better free agents could have been signed this year and last year to make the MLB product more watchable. True. But if you go back and read articles about the Houston process, it's clear that the deal with ownership was that they weren't going to go "halfway". They were in it all the way. Now, a cynic could say "that's ownership being cheap" and maybe that's true too. But I think it's part of the bargain. During the rebuild, Houston was the most profitable team in baseball. It's a part of what the brothers agreed to. Give us the profits and we'll invest in the Dominican. And the other thing is I think it's important to be open and honest with free agents. You have to let them know they're being signed to be traded in July. How many guys are open to that? I don't think it's as many as others would suggest. 

Now, here's the crazy speculation. The Carlos Correa draft was an underslot sign. It gave them a chance at McCullers and Ruiz. The idea is that some players just don't pan out so you move toward quantity rather than quality when there isn't a clear value choice. I'm a fan of Kjerstad, unlike most on here, but the Kjerstad draft gave them Mayo and Baumler, who they would have had no chance at otherwise. Quantity. Elias is widely credited with being the biggest Correa advocate. 

What else has Houston done? They've spent years picking up bargain basement catchers rather than spending big on someone. I don't think that's just by chance. I think that's based on some set of analytics that we're not privy to related to a catchers value.

So, the O's have someone that can produce a tremendous haul in trade, someone with huge value if he's available in trade. What if the O's trade Rutschman this winter? How much could he supply to the "elite talent pipeline"? And a part of the return (for him or others) would be 1-2 catchers.

Blake Snell brought back the #3, 7, 14 and 15 prospects from the Padres. I believe Means could bring back something in that ballpark. Even if you keep Rutschman, dealing Means, Santander, Mancini, Mullins, Fry, Scott and others can return huge value. 2023 could be really fun.

But this winter, teams like the Cardinals who love their fan favorites and need someone to divert attention from Molina not coming back might pay in a huge way for a guy who is likely to be an All Star for years. 

The O's could very well have the best farm system in baseball. Maybe by quite a bit depending on returns. And dealing most of the above mentioned guys would likely ensure the #1 pick in 2022, Elijah Green. 

2023 gives the possibility of Rodriguez, DL Hall, Baumann, Bradish, Kevin Smith, Ofelky Peralta plus 1-2 FA's without considering the huge haul that 2021 trades could bring. Just my opinion but I don't think it's reasonable to say ownership won't pay for a free agent in 2023 when they've got a legitimate chance to be good. 

Just my thoughts and speculation. I might be way off base, and I'm sure most will think I'm crazy. Maybe I am. But none of this would surprise me. 

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I think that even most of the fans that have been willing to stick with a team that is openly not trying to win games for years on end will revolt if they trade Rutschman.  I think it would be a PR hit that, combined with the pandemic and probable labor disruption, will effectively kill the fanbase for the team.

I think it's a great idea if you want to clear the way to move the team.


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I think your calculations are a little off.   You say there is nothing a Norfolk.  But they will be a soon.  If you think the O's are going to hold Rutschman, GrayRod and DL Hall at AA all season I think you are mistaken.  Bradish is already at AAA.   Baumann is on the 40 man roster and will probably move fast from AA to AAA and sometime his season to the majors if he stays healthy.  So all these players are likely to be in the majors in 2022.

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I have a hard time believing the O's would trade Rutschman before he sets foot in Camden Yards. His value will only go higher as he continues his success at the highest level. I think there is a middle ground before waiting too long like we did with Manny and jumping the gun and trading a prospect before he has a chance to cement his value. 

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If Elias had some advanced stats telling him that he doesn't need an elite catcher to be competitive, he would have drafted Bobby Witt in 2019.

No way he drafted Rutschman at 1-1 just on hopes that he could fleece some team on a guy who hasn't played an inning of major league ball.

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Nice OP.

2022 has always been the only in-between year, and next month we'll see if Mancini makes it to the end.   I can imagine scenarios where Elias classifies '23 as go time (rooting for "not this" but it is a gray area) and maintains higher asking prices on Means/Santander/Mullins (relative to their value in a vacuum) than he does on Trey, who he could always give $$$ to for 2023.   

Mancini's presence or absence on the August 1 roster will be more than a tea leaf to me how the front office is looking at next year, and of course the two months between here and there is still most of the sample size since 2019 for evaluating if 2022 is worth an effort, or for hoarding the greatest Norfolk Tides team we've ever seen.

Setting Rutschman on 2022-2028 instead of 2021-2027 is a win for Maikol Hernandez and a loss for John Means.    I would be surprised if pending CBA changes are empowered to affect the service time track of anyone acquired under this CBA, and guess that Elijah Green and the '22 draftees might be the first class of players governed by whatever the new rules become.


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