Orioles give up on Felix Pie, promote Matt Angle

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After taking a big step backwards this year, 26-year-old Felix Pie was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Tuesday.  The team has called up fellow outfielder Matt Angle to take his place.

Pie, a former Cubs prospect, seemed ready to start in center field for some team after a 2009 season in which he hit .266/.326/.437 with nine homers in 252 at-bats, but rather than trade him, the Orioles instead kept him around as a part-time left fielder in 2010.  He wasn’t really an asset in that role, hitting .274/.305/.413 in 288 at-bats.

Pie’s hopes of an expanded role this year died with the Vladimir Guerrero signing, and he was unable to capitalize after injuries to Derrek Lee, Luke Scott and Guerrero opened the door for him to seize the left-field job.  He was hitting just .220/.264/.280 in 164 at-bats.   Since the beginning of June, he was hitting .184 with two RBI and six runs scored in 87 at-bats.

While Pie may yet be young enough to turn into a useful player, his hopes of making it as a regular appear dashed.  His lack of plate discipline is a huge issue at the plate, and he doesn’t use his speed to the best of his ability.  Advertised as a quality defensive center fielder when he arrived in the majors, his fielding numbers have gotten worse every year to the point at which he was actually abysmal in left field this season.

To replace their underachiever, the Orioles are calling up an overachiever with a similar profile.  Like Pie, Angle is left-handed-hitting outfielder with limited power and good speed.  He was hitting .272/.347/.345 with 27 steals in 30 attempts for Triple-A Norfolk this season.  Angle is just seven months younger than Pie, and he’s probably a fifth outfielder at best.  Still, the Orioles have nothing to lose by giving him a look.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.