Put the rumors to bed. The Baltimore Orioles have officially traded their All-Star shortstop, Manny Machado.
Arguably the most prized MLB trade deadline target ever, the Baltimore Orioles have finally come to an agreement to trade All-Star shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After weeks of speculation and rumors, the sweepstakes came down to the Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Milwaukee Brewers. A late surge by the Dodgers proved enough to win the services of one of the greatest young players in the game. Bob Nightengale of USA Today had the initial report of the trade.
In return, Baltimore is receiving OF Yusniel Diaz, RHP Dean Kremer, IF Rylan Bannon, RHP Zach Pop, and IF Breyvic Valera.
Diaz was the fourth-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list of Top 30 Dodgers’ prospects and ranks 84th overall. Currently in Double-A, Diaz is slashing .314/.428/.477/.905 with six home runs. He has showcased an advanced feel at the plate, evidenced by his 39/41 K/BB ratio.
Per Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser,
Yusniel Diaz is a physical, athletic outfielder who just crushes balls on a line to all fields. Doesn’t always elevate over the wall, but hits the wall on a line. Keeps making jumps forward every year and trending in the right direction. Great get for the #Orioles
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) July 18, 2018
Signed out of Cuba in 2015, the Dodgers spent over $30 million on Diaz between his signing bonus and penalties. All the scouting reports are consistent on Diaz: above-average hit tool, the potential for some pop but more likely a line-drive artist, plus-arm strength in the outfield, decent speed but unable to use it effectively on the basepaths, to this point. He immediately becomes the most intriguing prospect in the Orioles’ system. Diaz will be a corner outfielder at the major league level for the Orioles.
Here’s what he did last weekend at the MLB Futures Game.
The last player to homer twice in a #FuturesGame was a skinny #Yankees prospect named Alfonso Soriano in the very first edition 20 years ago. @Dodgers' Yusniel Diaz did it tonight. More: https://t.co/v4sBRVSQ0b pic.twitter.com/KuE4mn1giY
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 16, 2018
RHP Dean Kremer
Dean Kremer is another prospect Orioles’ fans should be excited about. He made 16 starts in High-A, posting a 114/26 K/BB ratio over 79 innings with a 1.18 WHIP. Since his promotion to Double-A, Kremer made one start, striking out 11 over seven innings. While averaging 13 strikeouts/nine innings, Kremer recorded a 3.30 ERA and 3.01 FIP.
According to Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, Kremer uses four pitches, including a mid-90s fastball, a curveball, slider, and changeup. He was the first Israeli to be drafted by an MLB team when the Dodgers took him in the 14th round of the 2016 draft. Ideally, he is a future bullpen piece for the Orioles, with an ability to produce swings and misses and reach back for 96-97 mph.
INF Rylan Bannon
In messages I exchanged with someone who covers the Los Angeles Dodgers, the initial response I received on Bannon was, “You want to love the kid, but I’m not sold on his ability to stick at the major league level. A few small adjustments to make more line-drive contact and you might have a utility infielder who can play multiple positions.”
Now 22 years old, Bannon was an eighth round pick out of Xavier in 2017 and was in High-A before the trade. In 89 games, Bannon hit .296 with an impressive .402 OBP, 20 home runs, and a .961 OPS. He’s played both second and third base but “shows more range at second, despite making a number of highlight-reel plays at third base.”
RHP Zach Pop
First observation: 80-grade name. Zach Pop is a right-handed relief option, drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 draft out of Kentucky. Injuries (forearm) limited his action last season. However, he’s logged 43 innings between the Midwest League (Full-season A) and California League (High-A) this season.
In the California League, Pop is 1-0 with seven saves and a 0.33 ERA. More than 95% of runners that have reached base against him have been stranded and opposing batters hit just .146 against him. Armed with a slider and a fastball that touches 98 mph, Pop has a lot of, pop. (I got it out of my system, it’s done forever. I promise).
IF Breyvic Valera
Valera was a throw-in piece to the deal but could prove useful for the Orioles as an experienced 4-A player. Valera has major league experience, recording 29 at-bats this season with the Dodgers. While he recorded just five hits in those 29 at bats and is hitting .154 in 39 career-MLB at-bats, Valera is a career .302 hitter with a .359 OBP in the minor leagues. However, many ballparks in the Pacific Coast League are extremely hitter-friendly, inflating his numbers a little.
If he shows an ability to get on base at the major league level, the switch-hitting infielder could be a slight upgrade over Luis Sardinas.
#PorSiTeLoPerdiste: ¡Qué gran atrapada! Breyvic Valera se tiró de cabeza y le robó un hit a los Phillies. Disfruta de esta jugada en nuestro idioma. #LosDodgers ⚾💪 pic.twitter.com/4ghL1BqyF0
— Los Dodgers (@LosDodgers) June 1, 2018
It was only a matter of time before the Dodgers agreed to pay up for one of the top players in all of baseball. Sitting at 53-43, Los Angeles is only half a game up on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West, with the Rockies two back and the Giants sitting within striking distance at four games back.
The loss of shortstop Corey Seager (out for the year after Tommy John surgery) and now Yasiel Puig (oblique injury), have left the Dodgers in search of more offensive weapons to power them through the playoff race. Nothing is a guarantee in baseball, but the addition of Machado provides a major boost for a team who may be just one good pitcher away from claiming another World Series title.
Machado was a first-round pick of the Orioles back in 2010, making his MLB debut just two years later. Across six-plus seasons at Camden Yards, Machado played in 860 games, hitting 162 home runs, 197 doubles, and posting a .822 OPS. He leaves Baltimore as one of the most beloved Birds of all time.
Now that teams like the Brewers, Phillies, and Yankees are out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, expect a flurry of movement before the trade deadline. Philadelphia remains active in a trade for Orioles’ closer Zach Briton, while New York is still in desperate need of pitching to carry them through the playoffs.
Seattle, Oakland, and Atlanta could also become major players at the trade deadline with playoff races still wide open. Outside of maybe Boston, there is no clear-cut World Series favorite heading into the second half of the season, meaning it’s anybody’s game. Well, maybe not anymore. The Dodgers made a big statement. Now, can they execute on the field?