Now that the Orioles have snapped their losing streak and hopefully ended the hysteria it caused, allow me to try to halt some more.

It has somehow become an accepted, understood fact that the Orioles need to make significant moves to upgrade a pitching staff that has endured as many elbow surgeries this month (four) as Craig Kimbrel has saves.

It’s a valid hope to have. Last year’s pitching staff was good enough to win 101 regular-season games and zero playoff games, and a very similar group, albeit one that’s outperforming last year’s, is going to be tested to take the team deeper into October.

The context of losing Kyle Bradish, John Means and Tyler Wells to season-ending elbow surgeries and Danny Coulombe for months to a different elbow surgery matters. The rotation also picked a bad time to do its best 2021 Orioles rotation impression. But literally everything else we know about the Orioles matters, too, and I feel like every proclamation that the Orioles have the prospects to do whatever they want forgets to consider whether they’re going to want to do anything.

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That’s what I wonder each time I see an online trade rumor or declaration that they have to make a move in the next five weeks. And here’s why.

Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias, left, and manager Brandon Hyde talk at spring training. The duo guided the team through a rebuild focused on developing an elite pipeline of talent. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

They’re not going to change their belief structure overnight

In response to a question following the Corbin Burnes trade asking if the team’s potential to contend “front-loads” some of its decision-making, general manager Mike Elias said, “The methods that we have applied to rebuild the team are being applied with all our decision-making in baseball operations.”

Those methods involve using data, and more specifically the current and future value of players, to make decisions at every level of the organization. The front office forecasts the value and cost of players over the time they’d be in an Orioles uniform and tries to adhere to that as strictly as possible. On a basic level, a promising young player who will be cost-controlled for the Orioles for a number of years will be worth more in that estimation than a player with a higher salary who is closer to free agency.

That’s why they made the Dylan Bundy trade, which yielded Kyle Bradish; the Jorge López trade, which yielded Yennier Cano and Cade Povich; and the Trey Mancini trade, which brought Chayce McDermott and Seth Johnson. They added substantial value in those trades, and doing the reverse for any kind of experienced pitcher would likely mean they’re giving up more future value than they’re bringing in. Willingly giving that up just doesn’t feel like something they’d do on purpose.

The Burnes trade, when the Orioles traded two top-10 prospects with six years of club control and a first-day draft pick for one year of their current ace, is rightfully used as an example against this. They knew they were giving up a lot to get a lot, and I’d argue that was their gambit to cover for potentially not having Bradish this year. I’m not sure they’re going to get into the business of giving up that much on a regular basis, and when you consider there might only be six or seven teams that are truly selling and everyone else will be bidding on their best arms, the price is probably going to be irrational.

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Kyle Bradish entered camp with a UCL sprain, the same injury that ultimately led to season-ending Tommy John surgery. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

There’s not a lot of surprises in this current set of injuries

Every meeting the Orioles had this offseason as they planned their roster was held with the knowledge that Means’ elbow still hurt after he was left off the postseason roster. From some time in January on, they knew about Bradish’s elbow sprain. And they also knew Wells’ contribution level was going to be a question mark, given how the last couple of seasons went.

The worst-case scenario for all of them hit relatively quickly, and no one is watching the Orioles rotation in the last week and thinking everything is going according to plan. It’s not, however, a massive departure from expectations. The preceding two-plus months for the group were incredibly good, and even the baked-in regression you’d expect from such an outperforming group would make it merely pretty good.

Coulombe’s surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow is a different category, and his absence looms large over the bullpen. If anything blindsided them, that might be it. But the degree that these injuries make the Orioles major July buyers in the public eye feels like it vastly overstates the reality.

Kyle Stowers is one of several high-level hitting prospects who has yet to find consistent playing time in the majors. (Griffin Quinn/Getty Images)

They’ve never viewed having a lot of prospects as a reason to trade some of them

We’re basically in Year 3 of the Orioles having way more high-level hitting prospects than spots for them in the majors, and they’ve chosen to keep many of them in the fold despite a lack of clarity on how they’ll best be used.

This has been explained to me in a number of ways. There’s the idea that, given the talent of the players and the quality of the team’s development structure, continuing to work in the Orioles system will either yield a better player for the major league team or a more valuable player to another team in a trade. That hasn’t been debunked yet. Even their prospects on the Norfolk shuttle with limited major league experience hold their value.

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There’s also a sense that these players are still incredibly valuable to the Orioles even if they’re not everyday major leaguers in this moment. They view the potential positional logjams as a part of having a good system, not a flaw of it that needs to be solved. Kyle Stowers and Heston Kjerstad are overqualified to be bench outfielders, but it beats having a less useful player in that roster spot. Connor Norby has beaten Triple-A as a level, but if a team needs an infielder for one week, it can do a lot worse than calling on him. Having such talented depth is seen as a way to navigate the ups and downs of a long season, and the Orioles seem loath to sacrifice that.

This is carrying over to the pitching side in a major way, too. There already aren’t enough innings to go around in the high minors as the talent level grows. To take away from the team’s future pitching stock to address that area now feels counterintuitive. Having as much pitching as possible across all levels is the goal, and keeping it is a way to ensure that.

Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde watches his team during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 30. The team is still on track to make the postseason. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

They’re on track to be a playoff team — and so are a bunch of teams

When Bradish was injured in that wild game against the Phillies, the Orioles were projected to go 94-68, with a winning percentage of .530 the rest of the season, according to FanGraphs. They entered Thursday’s game projected to go 93-69 with a rest-of-season winning percentage of .529 in those same forecasts. Just as the preseason projections said, they’re expected to be a playoff team.

The Orioles’ own projections aren’t the same ones available to us, but they all work off the same data set. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that FanGraphs had 17 teams projected to be .500 or better entering Wednesday’s games, and a bunch of teams that fancy themselves as contenders or have the talent to be — including the Giants, Rangers, Cubs, Reds and Blue Jays — aren’t among them. Last year’s World Series featured a pair of wild card teams who just got into the tournament. The Orioles are on pace to be in it, and I’m sure a lot of teams will pay over the market at the deadline to join them.

Orioles ace Corbin Burnes is an impending free agent, and he's expected to sign a lucrative deal outside Baltimore. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

They have the offseason to fill out the 2025 rotation

Shoring up the pitching staff for the rest of 2024 and filling out the rotation in a world where Burnes is likely hundreds of millions of dollars richer and wearing another uniform in 2025 are two different things. Given everything we know about in-season prices, the Orioles are going to have a far better selection of pitchers at far better prices in the offseason than they will in July to address the fact that they probably need starters for 2025.

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The idea of acquiring a starter with multiple years of control is nice, but that appeals to pretty much every team, and the price at the deadline is going to be astronomical in terms of prospect capital. Perhaps there’s a one-for-one trade like the Rays used to acquire Aaron Civale last year that the Orioles can sneak past everyone, but the more appealing option for addressing next year’s rotation would probably be to use whatever resources new control person David Rubenstein (and his team’s upgraded business acumen) can provide in free agency and still have all the prospects the Orioles covet in the organization.