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The Orioles rebuild is here and now the reality sinks in: It won’t be fun at first

The Orioles are the worst team in MLB this season and now they’ve traded away a boatload of their best players in hopes of improving for the future. For now... yowza.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
This sight will grace the Orioles dugout no more.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone and to my great surprise, the Orioles took the plunge. They traded a bunch of people. You’ve probably heard already, and if you haven’t: Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day are off to the Braves, while Jonathan Schoop has been traded to the Brewers.

This caps off a crazy month that has seen the Orioles trade six of their long-time players in five different trades to four different teams. In those deals, the Orioles have received a total of 14 prospects, one player with significant MLB service time, and $2.75 million in international signing bonus money.

The future of the Orioles is going to look very different from the past. For now, the hard part will be accepting that the past is, well, past. It helps in a sense that the Orioles are simply awful this season. A 32-74 record is a good thing to jolt one’s awareness that something drastic must be done.

The Orioles front office did not miss the memo, trading every player of significance who will be a free agent in the next two years, except for Adam Jones, who did not waive his 10-5 no-trade rights or he would be gone too.

It is an exciting time and it is also an anxious time. For all that the Orioles gave up, they only received one player, outfielder Yusniel Diaz in the Manny Machado trade to the Dodgers, who ranked in the top 100 prospects on the most recent MLB Pipeline list.

There is no certainty or guaranteed star power here. There are a whole host of players of whom the Orioles are hoping some will be able to be productive and maybe even above-average big leaguers. Maybe they will be right about many of them.

Yet those of us who are old enough surely remember the fire sale of 2000, where former GM Syd Thrift memorably boasted that three years from then, things would go great. The only useful player the Orioles got in those trades was Melvin Mora, already 28, whose late-blooming career success with the O’s was more of a happy accident than any real intentional design by Thrift.

One of the many sad realities here is that Gausman was never quite as good as Orioles fans wanted him to be, and so his value reflected that. Schoop is somewhat in the same category, other than last season. An Orioles team where Gausman was the best pitcher was probably never going to be all that great. Same with one where Schoop was the best position player. Here we are.

Who is even going to be in charge of this team in six months? The Orioles seem to have left Dan Duquette at the helm and given him full license to trade whoever, wherever, for whatever. He has certainly made the bold pronouncements about the new investments the Orioles are going to make, and in trading the players he has traded, has opened up a lot of money that will hopefully be put back into the team rather than into ownership’s pockets.

Does all of this mean that the Orioles ownership are going to sign him Duquette for more years and it just hasn’t been made public yet? Is someone new going to take over and sigh at the mess that Duquette has left? What’s going to happen, or has already happened, with the supposed Brady Anderson-Duquette conflict? Will Buck Showalter stick around for all of this?

These are concerns for down the road. For tonight we have to face the prospect of the Orioles taking the field without very many links to their recent good teams. We have had days to get used to Machado and Britton being gone. It’s still weird. Schoop is gone too. O’Day was on the DL, but he will never pitch for this O’s team again. Gausman will not get another start.

They’re all gone. That era of the Orioles is over. The second baseman tonight is Jace Peterson. Breyvic Valera, acquired in the Dodgers deal, was recalled. The third baseman is Renato Nunez. I don’t even know who will take Gausman’s place in the rotation and it almost doesn’t even matter because whoever it is probably is just a stop-gap and not a real player the O’s are counting on to make it onto their next good team. If we’re lucky, we might see Cedric Mullins before year’s end.

The Orioles had essentially no choice but to do all of this. They didn’t HAVE to trade Schoop, Gausman, or O’Day today, but they had to do it eventually and they deemed today to be the best day. Again, we can only hope they’re right.

Perhaps they should have kept O’Day and gotten better prospects from the Braves rather than having part of the value to the O’s being shed salary. Maybe they will put that money to good use. Maybe Schoop would have had more value in the offseason, or Gausman. I don’t know.

Even if things end up being better three years from now as a result of all of this, I’m sad about it right now. The idea of rebuilding might be more fun eventually when these players start to make their way to the Orioles in a year or two.

For now, the future is with the Double-A Bowie Baysox or lower, and their games don’t come on TV. The ones that do come on TV will feature fewer guys we know and like and are now more likely than they already were to end in losses. MASN had better stop airing those commercials that say “Ain’t baseball great” because right now, it ain’t.