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The Orioles unloaded at the trade deadline and now must figure out what’s next

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The first chapter of the Orioles’ rebuild came to a close with the July 31 trade deadline. Now, the attention turns to what the future holds for this team.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, you’ve had a night to sleep on it. How are you feeling about the return from the Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman trades? Those deals, along with the Manny Machado and Zach Britton trades, will be remembered as the first chapter of the Orioles rebuild. How that story ends remains to be seen.

The truth is, there’s really no way to accurately judge those deals right now. Analysts and fans can compare top prospect lists and minor league statistics, but only time will tell who can contribute to future Orioles teams.

The Orioles traded away six legitimate major league players in July. In return, they received nearly half of a draft class worth of prospects. The 15 players, led by Yusniel Diaz from the Machado deal, will have a say in the Orioles’ future, but they will not determine it. The first chapter of the Orioles’ rebuild did exactly what a first chapter should, lay the groundwork for an adventure. Baltimore will take another step in its journey during the remainder of the 2018 season.

The Orioles haven’t found themselves in a save situation in over a week. Brad Brach notched his 11th for the Orioles July 24 against Boston. He won’t be making the next save for Baltimore. The back end of the bullpen, and really the pen as a whole, will have the remainder of the season to audition in low leverage situations.

Cody Carroll, a member of the Orioles’ deadline draft class, has already arrived in Baltimore. Carroll came over in the Britton deal after striking out 55 batters in 41.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He pitched to a 2.28 ERA in 31 games for the RailRiders. Now, Carroll could be the first hint of how Baltimore fared at the deadline.

The Orioles received players that range from ready to contribute now, to guys who are several years away. But Baltimore has a few prospects that have been in the organization for a while and are finally ready to contribute.

The cries for Cedric Mullins will not be any quieter despite the fact that Adam Jones refused to be traded. Mullins could be patrolling a corner outfield spot by the end of August, or Jones could be forced to slide over from center in the last year of his contract. Austin Hays could return at some point, but he’ll need to prove that he’s healthy and able to hold his own against the pitching at Norfolk.

Tanner Scott struck out the side against New York last night, but the scoreless inning only lowered his ERA to a still massive 6.23. The Orioles chose to hold on to Mychal Givens, despite several teams showing interest. Did Baltimore just not want to sell low on the reliever, or do they still see something special in him? Givens could inherit the closer role for those hard-to-come-by save opportunities. If he pitches well, the spot is likely his to lose in 2019.

Chance Sisco will likely return at some point, and the Orioles will get to see what Jonathan Villar has to offer at second base. But perhaps the most interesting story line of the second chapter will come from the front office.

The Orioles now have over $8 million to spend in international bonus pool money. The Orioles treated this money as extremely disposable in the past, but they’re collecting all the international cash they can right now. Dan Duquette claimed that the Orioles were going to rededicate themselves to the foreign market, and this appears to be a sign that they’re going to deliver on that proclamation.

Baltimore has been linked to the top available international prospect, Victor Victor Mesa. When Mesa becomes eligible to sign with an MLB team, the Orioles will be extremely well positioned due to their large bonus pool.

There is no way of knowing whether Baltimore will be able to secure Mesa, but the Brach and Gausman trades that included international money will certainly be viewed differently if Mesa ends up in black and orange. With or without Mesa, the Orioles have the cash to make international moves right now. The idea of the Birds making a legitimate splash in the international market is captivating.

Baltimore could still unload another player or two via the waiver wire. The Orioles may be able to snatch up some value for Danny Valencia, maybe Mark Trumbo or even Andrew Cashner if he can pitch at a respectable level until the end of August.

In all reality, the daily minor league recaps may be more fun to read than the game stories for the remainder of this season. Keeping an eye on the Orioles’ prospects and monitoring the front office will be the highlight of this chapter in the Orioles’ rebuild.