The departure of shortstop Manny Machado brought some future hope to the Baltimore Orioles.
The four-time All-Star was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five prospects: outfielder Yusniel Díaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, second baseman Breyvic Valera and right-handers Zach Pop and Dean Kremer.
The Orioles hope the large haul can help shorten the rebuilding process.
“The clubs that have done it recently have given us an instructive road map in what to follow, and I think we have a good idea of what it takes to be consistently good,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a conference call with local media July 18. “The thing about the American League East is it identifies your strength and it also identifies your weakness. We have identified a number of weaknesses we need to shore up as we move forward to have a competitive club — certainly to compete against the really strong clubs in the American League East.”
Díaz is the marquee part of the deal for the Orioles. The 21-year-old Cuban batted .314 with 10 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 30 RBIs during 59 games (264 plate appearances) for Double-A Tulsa.
Diaz was ranked as the No. 3 prospect of the 2015 international signing period by MLB.com. However, he will need more time to develop in the minors before he makes an impact in Baltimore.
“We liked the depth of the Dodger package, we liked the quality of players in the package and we like Yusniel Díaz,” Duquette said. “The Dodgers invested a significant amount of money to sign Yusniel out of Cuba at a young age. We felt he was clearly the best player offered to us during this market and he was the key to the trade. But the other players in the trade also are very talented.
“The Dodgers have done an excellent job in terms of the depth and the quality of their farm system through the draft and international recruiting and we just like the talent that the Dodgers offered ahead of the other offers that we had.”
Pop, 21 also has an big upside and could be a key contributor out of the bullpen. He went 1-2 with a 1.04 ERA and 47 strikeouts during 30 appearances (43.1 innings) for Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Kremer — who was the Dodgers’ 28th-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline — could eventually earn a spot in the Orioles’ rotation. The 22-year-old went 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.15 WHIP during 17 starts with Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa.
“The two pitchers we got, one is a potential back end of the bullpen — that’s Pop,” Duquette said. “And also Kremer is having a great year. I think his numbers speak for themselves. He has an excellent repertoire, a deep repertoire and good control. We’re looking forward to adding all of these players to our organization.”
Bannon, who was ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 27 prospect, batted .296 with 17 doubles, six triples, 20 home runs and 61 RBIs during 89 games with Rancho Cucamonga. However, the 22-year-old will need more time in the minors to hone skills.
“We think he’s got the capability to develop into a solid ballplayer,” Duquette said.
Valera is a player the Orioles tried to previously acquire. The native Venezuelan already appeared in 20 games with the Dodgers this season, going 5-for-29. He also batted .284 with six homers, 25 RBIs, eight doubles and two triples during 56 games (223 plate appearances) with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
“[Velara] is someone that we tried to pick up at the end of the spring,” Duquette said. “We didn’t acquire him, but we got him this time from the Dodgers. He’s a versatile player with good on-base skills.”
Diaz, Kremer, Bannon and Pop are headed to Double-A Bowie. Valera will begins his Orioles career at Triple-A Norfolk and he could the first among the group to be called up to the major league club.
The Orioles are not finished dealing some of their key veterans, most notably left-hander Zach Britton. The closer is reportedly being sought by several teams looking to make a strong playoff push over the second half of the season.
“Clubs have become more interested in Zach as he has regained his velocity and particularly the sink and movement on his pitch,” Duquette said. “So, we had a really good week this past week, so clubs have renewed their interest in Zach and we engaged other clubs on that front.
“But we’re not as far down the road in the process and I think that’s partly because clubs were waiting to see how Zach was throwing and exactly what role he could help on a pennant-contending team.”
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