Allegany Communications Sports

Another trade deadline has come and gone and most of the noise around the country is being made about the Washington Nationals and their general manager Mike Rizzo’s blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres, as the Nats sent outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to San Diego for highly-rated prospects (by all who do such stuff), shortstop C.J. Abrams, left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III, outfielder James Wood and right-hander Jarlin Susana, as well as Major League first baseman Luke Voit.

Look, unless you’re a baseball scout, a serious fan of the Padres farm system, family of the players involved, somebody who covers baseball writing or broadcasting, or merely a nerd, the only people any of us know in this deal are Soto, arguably the best hitter in baseball (but by no means anything Ted Williams … stop it, talking heads), and Bell, the former Pittsburgh Pirates rising star, who had been having a fine season with the Nationals.

Both teams seem delighted with the deal, as the Padres now have the frightening trifecta of Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado for opposing pitchers to contend with each night. Meanwhile, Rizzo apparently turned to the right organization to pick for prospects, as his haul has lifted the Nationals’ farm system from No. 24 to No. 8 in Baseball America’s trade-deadline exit-poll ratings.

That was Rizzo’s aim. Once Soto turned down the 15-year, $440-million offer (which Rizzo, as with Bryce Harper previously, knew he would) and the Nats chose not to prolong the process in light of the Lerners’ interest in selling the franchise, the rebuild was 100 percent on. And now, perspective buyers have a lower big-league payroll and a system filled with top prospects with which to begin their stewardship as new owners.

Rizzo got just what he wanted. He’s a sharp guy.

At the same time, there was a certain faction of Nationals fans who spent the day voicing their strong displeasure with the deal, and who are now vowing their intentions to renounce their so-called Nats fanhood and return to the other end of the BW Parkway to once again become Orioles fans.

Typical Washington baseball fans – long known in Baltimore as The Suits by those of us who hated them being in Camden Yards – which is why D.C. had previously lost two Major League teams to other cities.

Meanwhile, there was certainly a significant faction of unhappy Orioles fans on social media as well, as General Manager Mike Elias followed his Monday trade of beloved Trey Mancini by trading All-Star closer Jorge Lopez to the Minnesota Twins for four minor-league pitching prospects, none of whom (again, see above) any of us here has ever heard of, so why even bother?

The Orioles also acquired popular outfielder Brett Phillips, who is universally loved in MLB, from the Tampa Bay Rays. Thus, I consider the entire exercise to have been a successful one, but that faction of Orioles fans seems to be of the mind that Elias has kidnapped the Lindbergh baby for the second day in a row.

Look, we covered Mancini yesterday. At age 30 going on 31 two months before becoming a free agent, it was time to part ways given what the Orioles are doing.

Lopez, as well, has been a wonderful story and is a player teammates and fans absolutely love. He is in the midst of an All-Star season after six big-league seasons of hanging on. Whatever he wasn’t doing right, the Orioles found and fixed when they made him their closer; and he is doing a great job.

Yet there is no guarantee he’ll be able to repeat this kind of season since he has never done it before, so why not move him while his value has never been so high and when this rebuild is in need of organizational pitching depth?

Fans who chirp that the Orioles are contenders are full of chirp. They are two games over .500 104 games in and are having a wonderfully enjoyable season and are such a fun team to watch and to pull for. But why scrap the long-term plans for a watered-down third MLB wild-card berth? How much fun was it to lose the wild-card game in Toronto in 2016? How did just being in that game (not to mention Buck going helter-skelter at the end of it) help the future of the Orioles?

After not even half of an absolutely dismal season of the Orioles continuing to fool themselves, it triggered a complete organizational rebuild, that’s how.

And, frankly, there’s just as good of a chance the Orioles will continue to win and secure one of the three wild cards, even without Mancini and Lopez. So, there.

Look, I like what the Nationals did before the trade deadline, particularly since they really had no other choice, given the impending sale of the franchise. I also like what the Orioles did, despite trading two highly popular players.

Best of all, outfielders Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins are still in Baltimore. I was paranoid all day about Elias being overwhelmed by offers he wouldn’t be able to refuse for either player.

Had he been, then I’d be one of the fans on social media who would have been full of chirp.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT