A game over .500 and only a handful of games out of a playoff spot, the Orioles are trading All-Star closer Jorge López to the Minnesota Twins, a source with direct knowledge of the agreement told The Baltimore Sun.
It’s the second straight day the Orioles traded away a major league contributor at a time their rebuild seems to be finally coming to fruition at the major league level. On Monday, Baltimore traded first baseman Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros for two pitching prospects as part of a three-team swap that included the Tampa Bay Rays. Tuesday at 6 p.m. marks MLB’s trade deadline.
In return for López, Baltimore received four more pitchers from Minnesota, getting right-hander Yennier Cano, a source with knowledge of the agreement said, and left-handers Cade Povich and Juan Rojas and right-hander and Juan Nuñez, according to reports.
López has been with the Orioles since 2020, arriving as a waiver claim from the Kansas City Royals. After struggling in the middle innings as a starter, López moved to the back of Baltimore’s bullpen and had immediate success, thriving as manager Brandon Hyde’s closer and representing the Orioles in last month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Unlike Mancini, who was in the final guaranteed year of his contract, López won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 1.68 ERA and 19 saves in 23 tries. Half of his blown saves came in consecutive appearances against his new club in early July.
The Orioles followed those back-to-back walk-off losses with a 10-game winning streak, propelling them to .500 and in reach of a playoff spot. A win Monday night made them a winning club at 52-51 and brought them within 2 1/2 games of an American League wild-card spot.
In explaining trading away Mancini on Monday, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias cited “the outlook and the probabilities of this year” in regards to the Orioles reaching the playoffs. They are in the toughest division in baseball, with all of the AL East’s four other playoff team’s also fighting for postseason berths.
For that reason, Elias has prioritized the future in trades, hoping to maximize what he called a “championship window.” López, under team control for two years beyond this one, seemingly could have been a part of that.
Instead, he heads to a Twins team battling for the AL Central title, while the Orioles will turn to other members of a breakout bullpen, most likely right-handers Félix Bautista and Dillon Tate, to handle the ninth inning.
Baltimore Sun reporter Andy Kostka contributed to this report. This story will be updated.