To sell or not to sell, that is the question the Orioles will have to answer soon with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching. Currently four games out of a wild card spot, the Orioles begin a 10-game homestand tonight that will likely determine the direction the team will take. Will they play for now or plan for later?
The Birds’ biggest trade chip not named Manny is Zach Britton. With the news from Fanrag’s Jon Heyman that the Dodgers have expressed interest in adding the lefty closer to their bullpen, let’s hope Dan Duquette is at least taking a look at what they might have to offer.
Camden Chat’s Mark Brown points out that the Dodgers have five players among MLB’s top 100 prospects. Here are some highlights about them from MLB Pipeline:
RHP Yadier Alvarez (#39 on top 100)
Age: 21; League: High-A; ETA: 2019
Scouting grades (scale 20-80): Fastball: 75; Slider: 60; Curveball: 55; Changeup: 55; Control: 50; Overall: 55
Alvarez has so much arm speed and athleticism that he delivers overpowering fastballs with ease, sitting at 94-97 mph for innings at a time and peaking in the triple digits. He utilizes three secondary pitches, all of which show potential of becoming plus offerings. His mid-80s slider can be a wipeout pitch at times, he has begun working on a low-80s curveball and his changeup can throw hitters off balance when at its best.
Given the Orioles’ choice not to spend any money in recent international drafts, would they be interested in trading for one? Here’s a chance to possibly land one of the most coveted of the Cuban phenoms.
OF Alex Verdugo (#50)
Age: 21; League: Triple-A; ETA: 2017
Scouting grades (scale 20-80): Hit: 60; Power: 50; Run: 50; Arm: 70; Field: 50; Overall: 55
An extremely advanced hitter for his age, Verdugo excels at recognizing pitches, managing the strike zone and squaring up the ball. He exhibits plenty of bat speed from the left side of the plate and an affinity for using the opposite field. ... Though Verdugo has just average speed, he has spent most of his pro career in center field. His instincts help him make plays, but a lot of evaluators believe his range will be better suited for right field in the long run.
Given that the Orioles have shown a desire in the past to trade for young talent that is close to being major-league ready, Verdugo may intrigue when considering a deal. He has an .879 OPS for Oklahoma City, the Dodgers Triple-A club. He could possibly be a legit backup center fielder for Adam Jones the rest of this year and next (Jones' last year on current contract), while solidifying right field for years to come.
2B Willie Calhoun (#69)
Age: 22; League: Triple-A; ETA: 2018
Scouting grades (scale 20-80): Hit: 55; Power: 55; Run: 40; Arm: 45; Field: 40; Overall: 55
A left-handed hitter, he has a quick bat and a knack for making contact, and he might do even more damage once he learns to wait a little better for pitches he can drive. He could be a .280 hitter with 20 or more homers per season at his peak. His quickness, hands and arm all grade as below average at second, though he has worked hard on his defense. An outfielder and third baseman at Yavapai, he's most likely to wind up in left field and has enough bat to profile there.
While the Orioles’ greatest need is pitching, their farm system lacks bats as well. Calhoun could help (.918 OPS for Oklahoma City), but the Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis contracts clog Trey Mancini’s path to first base and could ticket him for left field next year. Of course, the Orioles currently have an All-Star 2B in Jonathan Schoop.
RHP Walker Buehler (#78)
Age: Turns 23 later this month; League: Double-A; ETA: 2018
Scouting grades (scale 20-80): Fastball: 60; Curveball: 55; Slider: 55; Changeup: 50; Control: 55; Overall: 55
Buehler usually operated with a 90-96 mph fastball in college, and he opened eyes by throwing in the mid-90s during his brief pro debut and hitting 99 during instructional league. Though he's unlikely to maintain that velocity while handling a starter's workload, he has a definite plus fastball and an array of impressive secondary pitches. He can miss bats with both his curveball and slider (and morph the latter pitch into a harder cutter), and his changeup shows flashes of becoming an above-average offering.
Buehler is another young pitcher who already had Tommy John surgery before pitching in his first professional game. He is now nearly two years removed from the operation and could provide a much-needed rotation option as early as next year. He has a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts this year at High-A and Double-A.
OF Yusniel Diaz (#90)
Age: 21; League: High-A; ETA: 2019
Scouting grades (scale 20-80): Hit: 55; Power: 40; Run: 60; Arm: 55; Field: 55; Overall: 55
With his quick right-handed stroke and good hand-eye coordination, Diaz barrels balls easily. He focuses on hitting line drives and using the entire field, displaying decent patience at the plate. ... He's a plus runner whose still figuring out how to use his speed on the basepaths after getting caught in eight of his 15 steal attempts during his debut. He has the range and arm strength to man all three outfield spots and he's capable of playing regularly in center field.
The Cuban-born Diaz gives the Orioles another opportunity to add an international player that they had no interest in targeting when he defected. Maybe Peter Angelos likes the idea of another team spending big on foreign players – Diaz cost the Dodgers a total of $31 million – and then trading for them.