When a team is out of contention, it has a pretty good idea of whether it will be a “buyer” or a “seller” in the trade market. When a team has high profile free-agents-to-be, it becomes painfully obvious.
Still, a series of past moves, along with the product on the field this year, made it difficult to trust the Orioles organization to do just about anything. After all, the club was going for one last run with the gang this year before they ended up on a worse pace than the 1988 team. But credit where credit is due, Baltimore has shown some competence over the past week.
A team likely loses a bit of leverage when the entire league knows it needs to trade a player. The Orioles combatted that factor with Manny Machado, and now Zach Britton, by drumming up as much competition as possible, and not waiting until the July 31 trade deadline.
In theory, trading a player earlier makes them more valuable. The longer a team would have a valuable player, the more valuable a player becomes. It also eliminates the pressure to deal a guy, because the club isn’t under the gun just yet. While it would have been nice for the Orioles to realize this last offseason, there’s nothing they can do about that now
Machado recently told reporters that the Orioles notified him they had a deal in place on July 15, and they were just waiting to complete all of the physicals until after the All-Star break. Along with showing some respect to their former star player, this shows the Orioles made the decision at their pace.
Yusniel Diaz was reported to be the best player the Orioles were offered in any potential Machado deal. If that’s true, Baltimore certainly made the right decision. Diaz, fresh off a two-home run performance in the MLB Futures game, possesses star-power potential, and at least profiles as a bonafide big-leaguer.
The Orioles now have a legitimate crop of young outfielders in their system. Diaz joins Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart atop the Orioles outfield prospects. Trey Mancini is allegedly an outfielder as well.
It’s no secret the the Orioles need pitching. And while the Machado deal included a starter and reliever, Baltimore picked up three more arms in a trade for Britton. Mark recapped the trade here, with the Orioles picking up righty starter Dillon Tate, lefty starter Josh Rogers, and righty reliever Cody Carroll.
Tate, a former first-round pick for the Texas Rangers, has a legitimate upside. Although he struggled early in his professional career, the former Yankees eighth-ranked prospect has pitched well at Double-A Trenton this season. Tate pitched to a a 3.38 ERA with a 3.76 FIP, and his strikeouts were up in the first half of the season. There’s no reason for Baltimore to rush him to the bigs, so he’ll have plenty of time to develop. Whether the Orioles can develop young pitching remains to be seen.
Rogers and Carroll, along with the players acquired in the Machado deal, become a series of lottery tickets for Baltimore. If just one more out of the crop become a legitimate contributor to the Orioles, the deals will be a success. As with any trade involving prospects, time will tell. But for now, the deals look to be at least market value.
The Orioles also made the right decision in deciding to deal with New York. Although the idea of Britton in pinstripes may not be easy to swallow, the Yankees clearly made the best offer. It may seem unnecessary to credit the front office for dealing with a rival, but would anyone have been surprised if Angelos and Co. refused to work with the Yankees? Again, the Orioles made the move that brought them the highest yield.
Trade season is far from over. With a week to go, the Orioles still have moves to make. Can they squeeze any value out of the once-coveted Brad Brach? Will they find a trade Adam Jones is willing to accept? Are they willing to trade players like Jonathan Schoop, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman who all have more than one year of control left?
When the Orioles dealt Machado, they issued a statement indicating they were taking a different approach. Allegedly, the Orioles will have an increased value in on-base percentage, analytics and the international market moving forward. If the team hopes to rebuild with any success, all of those things must be true.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and winning baseball teams are not either. The Orioles have dug themselves into quite a hole, and a few trades alone won’t help that, but they’ve taken a few steps in the right direction.