Manny Machado is no longer the face of the Baltimore Orioles franchise.
Late on Wednesday, the team finally traded their franchise star, Manny Machado, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, completing a 5-for-1 deal that had been in the making for most of the past two days. The trade comes after weeks of speculation that the Orioles, who sit 39.5 games out of the AL East, wanted to complete a trade involving Machado before the end of the All-Star break. Teams like the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Milwaukee Brewers expressed significant interest in acquiring the budding 26-year-old superstar, but a late push by the Dodgers propelled them to victory in the sweepstakes.
While those teams continue to scour the market for other potential trade chips in their quest to reach the postseason, the Dodgers have secured one of the best, if not the best, bats available on the market, while the Orioles begin a long-awaited firesale. However, there is a risk that the Dodgers took in order to acquire Machado, and it lies within the package of 5 prospects they sent to Baltimore and Machado’s long-term future.
The full trade between the Orioles and Dodgers concluded as followed:
Dodgers acquire: 3B/SS Manny Machado
Orioles acquire: OF Yusniel Diaz, 3B Rylan Bannon, RHP Dean Kremer, RHP Zach Pop, INF Breyvic Valera
The Dodgers, unsurprisingly, went all in on Machado and for good reason. Machado has an elite bat, as he is slashing a robust .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs on the year. His 164 Adjusted OPS+ ranks 5th in the entire league. Even more importantly, he fills a massive hole at shortstop, as Corey Seager is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late April. The acquisition of Machado gives the Dodgers offensive stability, but there is still a lot to be concerned with as to his defense at shortstop.
While Machado has expressed his interest in being a primary shortstop, defensive metrics favor him to his original position at the hot corner, where he is an elite defender. As a third baseman, Machado has saved 81 runs defensively over his career, whereas in his time as a shortstop, he is practically a polar opposite, with -17 runs saved defensively. In 2018 alone, Machado has a DRS mark of -19, creating a complex problem for the Dodgers. But, according to Dave Roberts, Machado will see time at both shortstop and third base, meaning that the team will look to swap Machado with Justin Turner, the team’s original third baseman, on occasion as the stretch run approaches.
Another issue that could arise is the prospect of re-signing Machado when he becomes a free agent once the postseason ends in November. With the Dodgers giving up 5 prospects in the deal, there may be some confidence within the organization that the team could be able to re-sign Machado, though this creates a serious logjam on the left side of the infield, with Corey Seager scheduled to return for the 2019 season. Machado has also expressed interest in signing with the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees in the offseason, but luckily for the Dodgers, the team can influence his future decision by making another deep postseason run.
As for the Orioles, the team finally seems committed to a rebuild that should have been started last year. The team has been on a rapid decline over the past couple of seasons, with their last playoff appearance being a devastating loss in the AL Wild Card game against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. Since then, the team has a record of 103–156, and after whiffing at an opportunity to become sellers in 2017, the influx of talent that the team acquired in the Machado deal is much-needed.
Prospect Yusniel Diaz, who was the Dodgers’ #4 prospect per MLB.com, headlines the package that was sent to Baltimore, followed by Rylan Bannon and Dean Kremer, who were ranked 27th and 28th in the Dodgers Top 30, Zach Pop, and Breyvic Valera, who has made 20 appearances for the Dodgers following the injury of Corey Seager.
Diaz had just come off a monster Futures Game performance over the weekend, where he belted two home runs for Team World in a losing effort. With the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers, Diaz slashed .314/.428/.477 in 59 games. Hailing from Cuba, the Dodgers signed Diaz in November of 2015 and Diaz has flown up the ranks rather quickly. With a potent bat, average defense, and above-average speed in the outfield, Diaz could reach the majors as early as next year, but the Orioles may wait and develop their new #2 prospect more before slotting him in the big league outfield.
Rylan Bannon, a third base prospect, was with the Dodgers’ Class A Advanced affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, where he slashed a .296/.402/.559 in 89 games. An 8th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Xavier University, Bannon is an above-average defender at the hot corner, with his bat catching up to his glove. While the power was expected to be lacking in his bat, Bannon has smacked 30 home runs in his brief career, including 20 this season. Slotting in at #17 in the Orioles Top 30, Bannon will continue his development at third base and could reach the majors as early as 2020, if he continues his rapid pace.
Dean Kremer, one of two right-handed pitching prospects in the deal, was promoted to Double-A Tulsa just prior to the trade, making one start for the Drillers after making 16 at Class A Advanced. On the year, Kremer has a 3.03 ERA in 86 innings, with 125 strikeouts and just 29 walks. In his only start at Double-A, Kremer pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits, walking 3 batters, and striking out 11. He works with a fastball that usually sits 91–95 MPH, sometimes touching 97 MPH, with armside run, and accompanies that with a big curveball. He has a feel for a slider and a changeup and is improving in terms of his control, which likely keeps him a starter down the line.
The other right-handed pitching prospect, Zach Pop, is another 2017 MLB Draft selection, after being selected a round before Bannon in the 7th round. Pop, despite being a starter at the University of Kentucky, has been a dominant relief prospect in the Dodgers’ system, having only allowed a total of 9 runs in 48 and ⅓ innings during his brief career. In 2018, Pop has been nearly lights out, striking out 47 in 43 and ⅓ innings of relief with a 1.04 ERA in 30 appearances. Pop features a potent fastball-slider combination, with his fastball reaching 97 MPH and a hard slider. While not ranked in the Dodgers’ Top 30, Pop sneaks into Baltimore’s Top 30 list, becoming their #29 prospect. While work is still needed on his slider and command, Pop could rise quickly and reach the majors in 2019 and work out of the big league bullpen.
Lastly, Breyvic Valera is the only player in the deal with major league experience, playing in 25 games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Valera did well against minor league pitching, slashing .284/.350/.433 in 2018, he has not fared particularly well in the majors, slashing a paltry .172/.273/.172 in 20 games. Valera could be used as a versatile bench option in Baltimore, but he could end up at the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, until September.
While the Dodgers gave up quite a bit in terms of talent and potential, they earned a star that could help the team win their first World Series ring since 1988. As for Baltimore, the team will continue to insert talent into their barren farm system, as Zach Britton, Adam Jones, and Brad Brach face an uncertain future. While it’s still too early to tell who will benefit the most in this deal, both teams look to be in win-win situations in terms of their future prospects, whether it be a deep playoff run or a lengthy, but necessary, rebuild.