After news bubbled up with about two hours to go until the non-waiver trade deadline that the Orioles were still active trying to move players, they struck a deal with the Braves that will send Kevin Gausman to Atlanta. Fancred’s Jon Heyman was the first to report on a trade being done. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal added a big surprise: The Orioles also sent Darren O’Day to Atlanta in the deal.
The Orioles are receiving four prospects in return, also per Rosenthal. They are: third baseman Jean Carlos Encarnacion, catcher Brett Cumberland, righty reliever Evan Phillips, and lefty starter Bruce Zimmermann. In addition, the Orioles are receiving a whopping $2.5 million in international bonus slot money from the Braves. Hopefully they have some worthwhile players lined up to start handing out that money to.
A little earlier in the afternoon, Heyman reported that there were three teams “showing signs of getting serious” about Gausman: Rockies, Braves, and Brewers. Sometimes, these vague rumors turn into nothing, which is why my default response to trade rumors is that probably nothing will happen. However, this time it seems that the Braves got serious enough that things happened.
It’s really a wild time for the Orioles right now. I have to say that I did not believe that the team would actually trade anybody who had team control beyond this season. The fact that they moved Gausman, who isn’t a free agent until after 2020, is exciting for the rebuild project because it’s a sign that the O’s have admitted the tough but true reality that they weren’t very likely to be good either of the next two years with their current core of players.
Even better, the team they ultimately worked out a deal with is one of the teams that has one of the better farm systems in baseball. The Braves have nine prospects in the most recent top 100 list published by MLB Pipeline.
If you got excited for one of those prospect names earlier on, however, you may have been disappointed by the ultimate return. Of these players, two were unranked in the recent MLB Pipeline Braves top 30, and Cumberland was #30 of 30. Encarnacion was the best-ranked in this system at #14.
That’s not an immediately overwhelming return there. However, it is likely that the inclusion of O’Day was done to free up money that will purportedly be invested in other areas of the organization than big league payroll and that this resulted in a lesser prospect return than Gausman alone might have fetched.
Quick hits on each of these players:
Encarnacion is a 20-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic. He signed only two years ago and is playing in Low-A this season, where he has batted .288/.314/.463 in 97 games. That includes 100 strikeouts and 15 walks.
Cumberland is a switch-hitting catcher who in a twist I find amusing was drafted by the Braves with the pick they received from the Orioles in the Brian Matusz salary dump. Cumberland, 23, started the season in High-A, where he batted .236/.367/.407 in 82 games. This was enough to get him a promotion to Double-A very recently.
Phillips, 23, was born in Salisbury. He is the only player with big league experience coming over from the Braves. Don’t look at that four game sample size. He did have a 1.99 ERA and 1.033 WHIP in 40.2 innings across 31 games for the Braves Triple-A affiliate this season, with a whopping 59 strikeouts.
Zimmermann is another Maryland-born player, having been born in Baltimore. He also attended Towson before transferring to Mount Olive University, where he was drafted in the fifth round by the Braves last year. His 2018 season has seen him split between Low-A and Double-A, with a combined 2.86 ERA and 1.200 WHIP in 20 starts. More of that was Low-A than Double-A.