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Mike Elias: Orioles have to listen on trade offers this offseason; free-agent spending won't be solution

Jon Meoli, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

BALTIMORE -- Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias set the stage Thursday in his appearance on the team-sponsored Hot Stove Radio Show on 105.7 The Fan for an offseason in which the team's top arbitration-eligible players will face uncertain futures, beginning at next week's general manager meetings.

Elias said the Orioles will be listening to offers on even players they expect to keep -- and he counts right fielder Trey Mancini as someone who he expects to stay in Baltimore -- in an effort to keep the main focus of trying to inject the minor league prospect base with more talent.

"If somebody calls and expresses interest in your players, some guys are more available than others," Elias said. "But we definitely need to bring in talent from all angles possible, and if there are players on this team -- and there are -- that other teams like and feel like they could help them, and we feel like whatever's coming back is going to elevate the tide of talent in the organization, we're going to have to think about it."

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Chief among those players who could be on the block are infielder Jonathan Villar, reliever Mychal Givens and even Mancini -- all the big names the Orioles held onto at last July's trade deadline. Villar, in particular, is due an arbitration raise to $10.4 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors' projections. Dylan Bundy and Mancini are projected to make $5.7 million, and Givens comes in next at $3.2 million. Hanser Alberto, Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro are also entering their first year of arbitration.

"We have a large arbitration class," Elias said. "There's seven guys, and they're good players, but there is money involved. You've got to take it into consideration, and it may influence the decision whether or not to tender a contract in the first place, but also your threshold for trading those guys if there's interest elsewhere. That's part of running any business, and that's part of reality. Money and budgets are a huge part of our business."

 

Villar's particularly high price tag will be exacerbated by the fact that he's one year away from free agency, meaning the Orioles can only really flip him for value in the offseason before he becomes a July rental next summer.

"We only have one more year of control of him, whether he ends up staying beyond that, I don't know," Elias said. "But certainly with where we're at as an organization, we've got to entertain things with all these guys and take the long-term view of the club in mind."

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The preference for these arbitration-eligible players would be to get players in return for trades, presumably, and that's why Elias will go the general manager meetings starting Nov. 11 in Arizona with an open ear. Mancini seems to be safe, even if the rest aren't.

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