The season long speculation over whether the Orioles would trade Manny Machado reached a fever pitch during Tuesday night's All-Star Game as news broke that the Dodgers were moving toward a deal to acquire the four-time All-Star.Roughly 24 hours later, following a brief holdup over medical exams, the deal was
The season long speculation over whether the Orioles would trade Manny Machado reached a fever pitch during Tuesday night's All-Star Game as news broke that the Dodgers were moving toward a deal to acquire the four-time All-Star.
Roughly 24 hours later, following a brief holdup over medical exams, the deal was completed, with the Dodgers sending a prospect package of Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera to Baltimore in exchange for the 26-year-old shortstop.
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That Baltimore managed to get five quality prospects for Machado, a free agent at the end of the season, was a win for an Orioles organization in need of high-ceiling players as well as high-probability depth pieces on its farm.
For comparison, the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt a trio of prospects a year ago to Detroit in exchange for soon-to-be free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. In that trade, the D-backs parted with three infield prospects in Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King. None of the three were MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects at the time, although Lugo and Alcantara both ranked among the Top 30 in the Tigers' system, checking in at No. 4 and No. 15, respectively.
Four of the five players acquired in the Machado trade immediately slot into the O's Top 30 prospects list, and all but one has experience at the Double-A level. It's a considerable haul by all standards -- especially for a second-half rental poised to test the free-agent market after the season.
Diaz, MLB Pipeline's No. 84 prospect, headlines the Orioles' return in the deal and checks in as the club's new No. 2 prospect, behind third baseman Ryan Mountcastle. What's more, the 21-year-old outfielder joins the organization just days after he showcased his potential to a national audience by hitting a pair of impressive home runs in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Signed for $31 million ($15.5 million for his bonus and an equal amount in penalty tax) in November 2015 -- seven months after the then 18-year-old had defected from Cuba -- Diaz spent most of his first two years holding his own as one of the youngest regulars in the Class A Advanced California League before advancing to Double-A Tulsa in late 2017 and raking during the final month of the season. Returning to the Texas League this season, Diaz broke out in earnest by hitting .314/.428/.477 with 20 extra-base hits and more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) in 59 games.
Overall, Diaz possesses the across-the-board tools needed to become an impactful big league regular for the Orioles in the coming years --- perhaps even an All-Star if he can add more power to his game.
The other prospects acquired in the deal may not have a Diaz-like ceiling, but all four have the potential to develop into big league contributors in some capacity.
Kremer, No. 13 on the O's Top 30, shows the makings of becoming a future big league starter with a four-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball and an above-average curveball. That deep arsenal helped the 22-year-old righty amass 114 strikeouts over 79 innings in the California League, and he added to that total by striking out 11 over seven scoreless innings earlier this month in his Double-A debut.
Pop (O's No. 29), meanwhile, has also enjoyed a breakout campaign thus far, pitching to a 1.04 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP with 47 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings across two levels, including Double-A. The 21-year-old right-hander befuddles hitters on both sides of the plate, inducing a combination of whiffs and weak contact with a fastball-slider pairing from a low arm slot. He has the pure stuff needed to carve out a late-inning bullpen role in the big leagues, perhaps even a closer if he can further improve his breaking ball and refine his command.
Speaking of breakout campaigns, Bannon, the O's new No. 17 prospect, was leading the California League in both home runs (20) and slugging (.559) in his first full season at the time of Wednesday's trade. The 2017 eighth-rounder has shown he can hit for average too, with a selectively-aggressive approach that results in some swing-and-miss but also nets him plenty of walks.
The 22-year-old may be more impressive with the glove. He has range to both sides and comes in on balls well, and he possesses soft hands as well as solid arm strength. He could be a plus defender, either at third base or the keystone, with more consistency, and if it all clicks, Bannon could become a valuable utility infielder if not a regular.
Valera, on the other hand, is a super utility player who has seen time at every position, save for first base over nine professional seasons. But while the 26-year-old switch-hitter has a strong track record of hitting in the Minors, with a .302 average in over 850 games, he's produced just a .154 average in 25 games as a big leaguer.
As with all prospects, time and patience will be key in determining the long-term impact of Wednesday's trade. On paper, however, the Orioles did well, netting an emerging, high-upside talent in Diaz while also addressing their system deficiencies with the acquisition of several potential big league contributors.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.