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Even if the Orioles keep winning, Mike Elias might keep trading

Jon Meoli, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

When the Orioles dealt Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy in quick succession in December, it was between a season in which they weren't competitive and one in which the plan wasn't to change that as they continue their rebuild.

It was transparent in just how plainly it laid out that the Orioles weren't going to be seeking any meaningful improvement at the major league level.

Eight months, a pandemic and an improbable 4-3 start to this planned 60-game season later, such moves seem to be continuing apace -- even as the Orioles seem to be one of the teams handling the pandemic version of baseball best.

The Orioles dealt veteran reliever Richard Bleier -- who after the trade manager Brandon Hyde said was the only arm in the bullpen who could reliably throw strikes -- to the Miami Marlins for a player to be named.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, when asked whether the trade meant the Orioles were giving up on the idea of being competitive this summer, said "not at all."

"We're off to a good start," Elias said.

 

"The guys are playing well. It's good energy," he said. "We've got good young players on the team that are perhaps having breakout years. We'll see. We want to keep this rolling."

Still, the Orioles have had one of the worst bullpens in baseball since the late-inning trio of Zach Britton, Darren O'Day and Brad Brach was dealt in their July 2018 teardown. Bleier was one of the lone consistent pieces of it, and they're moving on from him. Elias noted how the "modern business of the game now" is "very transactional," and cited the visiting Tampa Bay Rays as a team that is constantly making moves to maximize its present and future concurrently.

"You've got to pick your times and cycle guys in and cycle guys out and keep the talent flow going," Elias said. "We're still at a point in our cycle where we're going to prioritize stuffing the talent pipeline as much as possible in the minor leagues and getting that base, and then the goal is to persist in that way once we have that talent base filled in. But by no means does this mean that we don't hope this team continues to win. It's an anything-goes kind of year, and we're going to go out and win every game every night."

It's hard to think of that other than a signal that no one on the Orioles is safe, even if the unlikely winning continues. And continue it might. They've already won two of three series and will be no worse than .500 when the Marlins come into town.

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