When Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette traded Manny Machado last month, he proclaimed that the organization was in full rebuild mode.
Duquette decreed that the Orioles were changing their entire organizational philosophy. With the blessing of notoriously difficult owner Peter Angelos and his sons John and Louis, Duquette announced that the Orioles would trade veteran talent before the July 31 trade deadline and begin reallocating the team’s resources to build for the future.
Given Duquette’s recent track record of financial and personnel mismanagement, Orioles fans had every right to be skeptical. Everyone knows a rebuild is necessary, but is Duquette the man for the job?
The early returns are positive. After moving Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18, Baltimore traded closer Zach Britton to the division-rival Yankees. The Orioles then shipped Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers and Kevin Gausman to the Atlanta Braves. Neither Schoop or Gausman were up for free agency after this season, but the Orioles moved them anyway. That alone shows that Duquette is serious.
As painful as these last few trades have been, particularly with the Machado, Britton and Schoop deals, each has been a necessary step towards the Orioles catching up with the rest of the baseball world.
In case you don’t follow the Orioles, or baseball in general, here are the trades Baltimore made prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
July 18 — Orioles trade infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Yusniel Diaz (No. 4 Dodgers prospect), infielders Rylan Bannon (No. 28 Dodgers prospect) and Breyvic Valera and pitchers Dean Kremer (No. 27 Dodgers prospect) and Zach Pop
July 24 — Orioles trade pitcher Zach Britton to the New York Yankees for pitchers Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate (No. 9 Yankees prospect)
July 30 — Orioles trade pitcher Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves for $250,000 in international signing bonus slot money
July 31 — Orioles trade pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Evan Phillips and Bruce Zimmerman, infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion (No. 14 Braves prospect), catcher Brett Cumberland (No. 30 Braves prospect) and $2.5 million in international signing bonus slot money
July 31 — Orioles trade second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielders Jonathan Villar and Jean Carmona (No. 14 Brewers prospect) and pitcher Luis Ortiz (No. 7 Brewers prospect)
(Note: All prospect rankings are courtesy of MLB Pipeline.)
In terms of quantity, the Orioles brought in quite a haul for their stars and veterans. Duquette traded Machado, Britton, Brach, Gausman and O’Day for a total of 15 players, despite only two of them being top-100 prospects (Diaz and Tate).
Oriole fans were hoping for more value, especially in the Gausman trade, but Duquette got as much as he could realistically ask for. When all the value is assessed, the Orioles got more than enough.
Diaz and Tate are both big leaguers in at least an average capacity and have the upside to be impact players. Carroll has already been called up to the major league club and Rogers likely isn’t far off. Villar is now the team’s starting second baseman and is under club control through the 2021 season. Not all of the prospects will pan out but given the quantity of players acquired, the Orioles will get at least few big leaguers by default.
The $3 million in international signing bonus money is an undervalued asset by fans. The Orioles have been a non-factor on the international market for years, contributing to the team’s anemic farm system. Part of Duquette’s change in course is to invest heavily in the international market and as The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina reports, the Orioles now have more than $8 million allocated for international signings.
As an Orioles fan, it sucks to watch the team trade away most of it’s stars. Since 2012, Baltimore has been the most consistent team in the AL East and nearly made a World Series trip in 2014. But the window has closed and it’s time to focus on the future. If the Orioles manage this rebuild correctly, perhaps the Birds will get back to the playoffs soon.
Despite his failures in recent years, maybe Duquette is the right guy to lead the way.