What the Machado Trade Does to Dodgers, Orioles

After a long few weeks of non-stop rumors and ever-changing favorites to acquire the services of All-Star infielder Manny Machadothe Los Angeles Dodgers have come out on top, as they have struck a deal that sent a quintet of prospects to the Baltimore Orioles: outfielder Yusniel Diazinfielders Breyvic Valera and Rylan Bannonand right-handed pitchers Zach Pop and Dean Kremer.

Machado was the hottest trade chip on the market this summer, as the superstar is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and his former team, the Baltimore Orioles, has been in the basement of the American League East (and Major League Baseball, for that matter) since the beginning of the season, leaving little incentive for them to retain him. In Machado, the Dodgers acquire a 26-year old slashing .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs. While Machado has graded poorly at shortstop this season, he seems likely to remain there for the season, as the Dodgers’ young star and former Rookie of the Year, Corey Seageris out for the season.

The acquisition of Machado seems likely to push Chris Taylor back to the outfield, and Andrew Toles to the bench, and adds one of the league’s best bats to one of the league’s strongest line-ups, where he seems likely to slot third between third baseman Justin Turner and first baseman Cody BellingerIn regard to the money, the Dodgers will be eating the remainder of Machado’s contract, which is about $6.3 million.

The Orioles did very well in this deal, as they were able to shed the remainder of the young star’s salary, while acquiring a collection of very interesting prospects. Beginning with the headliner, Yusniel Diaz is up there with Dustin May as my favorite Dodger prospect. The 21-year old is an absolute tank with the potential to slash .300/.430/.490 with 8-10 home runs a season with a handful of stolen bases. Prior to the season, I ranked Diaz fourth among Dodgers’ farmhands, seeing him as an above-average major-league bat with a good glove in the outfield, likely as a number two, but after seeing a notable change in his approach at the plate, he has a chance to lead off.

I would place his ETA as mid-to-late 2019, seeing as how he’s still just 21, and the O’s have no need to rush him. He probably begins in Double-A Bowie and moves up to Norfolk by the end of the season, which is where I would imagine he begins 2019. While it would be foolish to deem him a guarantee, as he’s still a prospect, he has a very good chance to be successful in the majors. He is an outstanding get for the O’s.

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Rylan Bannon was one of the most underrated prospects in the Dodgers’ system. An eighth round pick in 2017, the 22-year old has shown an excellent approach at the plate with solid contact ability and enticing power. Based on his build and offensive game, he looks like a third baseman long-term, despite the fact that he has played a fair amount of innings at second. The one thing to watch out for with Bannon is his strikeouts. While he draws a lot of walks, he strikes out a bit too much, which could cause him some difficulty as he moves up and faces more difficult competition. While he was playing in Class-A Advanced for the Dodgers, I don’t see why the O’s couldn’t assign him to Double-A, based on the fact that he’s a 22-year old hitting .296/.402/.559 with 20 home runs.

I would consider his ceiling to be an all-star third baseman who slashes .280/.390/.550 with 35-40 home runs and his floor to be a power bench bat, similar to Laynce Nixin the event that he can’t adjust to the upper levels of the minor leagues and the strikeouts get the best of him. The most likely scenario, in my opinion, is that of a solid to above average major league regular who can slash .260/.345/.480 with 30 home runs, as the AL East is certainly a favorable environment for him.

The third prospect is a day three selection from 2017, a 22-year old starter by the name of Dean KremerWhile Kremer currently works as a starter, I don’t know how likely it is that he remains in the rotation long-term, but has landed in the right organization, as they seem likely to give him every opportunity to do so. He sits around 91-94 on his fastball and has a decent enough curve, with a fringe change and slider, and average control. He fared very well as a starter in Class A Advanced this season, posting a strong 3.30 ERA over 79 innings pitched with a strong K/BB ratio of 12.99/9, 2.96/9, and an even more encouraging 3.01 FIP.

I would place his ceiling as a sneaky good four. My one concern is the fact that he’s more of a fly ball pitcher, which may not bode well in the hitter friendly AL East. He looks like a very good mainstay middle reliever, as I believe dropping the two fringe secondaries to focus on his curve and fastball will cause them both to play up. I would place his ETA at 2020 assuming they continue his development as a starter, and mid-2019 as a reliever.

Right-handed pitcher Zach Pop is the fourth guy in the deal, who has an exceptionally high floor. The 21-year old day three selection from Canada is outstanding at inducing weak contact, and generating groundballs at a 50%-60% clip consistently. He allowed a single earned run over 27 innings in Class A Advanced. While he typically works in the mid-90’s, he can hit 99 with a killer slider that can sit in the upper 80’s. There’s a chance we could see some improvement on the velocity as well seeing as how he’s just 21-years old. Based on volatility, the ceiling-floor game doesn’t typically work with relievers, but I would say Pop is more likely to wind up as a very solid set-up guy assuming he can maintain his decent control.

Finally, Breyvic Valera is the fifth and final guy involved in the deal, probably to make the move even in regard to the 40-man roster, and to give the O’s a major league ready replacement for the time being. The 26-year old is a slick fielding utility guy who hasn’t shown much offensively, but the potential for improvement based on approach. Over 34 plate appearances in Los Angeles, Valera has slashed .172/.273/.172, while hitting a much better .284/.350/.433 over 223 plate appearances in Triple-A. Disregard all of the power, as it is the Pacific Coast League, but the approach is elite. This is a guy who has logged more walks than strikeouts every season since 2012, and it’s not close either.

  • 2013: 55 walks, 48 strikeouts
  • 2014: 53 walks, 47 strikeouts
  • 2015: 75 walks, 41 strikeouts
  • 2016: 64 walks, 58 strikeouts
  • 2017 (minors) 56 walks, 39 strikeouts, (majors) 1 walk, no strikeouts
  • 2018 (minors) 21 walks, 20 strikeouts, (majors) four a piece

Baltimore is an outstanding landing spot for the young utility guy, as he seems likely to play almost every day. Based on his plate discipline and speed, we could be looking at a leadoff hitter, but at the very least, the O’s have a decent glove to hold the fort down for the time being.

I love this trade for the Orioles, as they picked up five legitimate candidates to be major leaguers. There are no minor league filler piece involved here, and the fact that the O’s got out of Machado’s remaining salary is huge. As for the Dodgers, the fact that they kept Dustin May is a plus, but I probably would have felt more comfortable dealing Gavin Lux than Yusniel Diaz based on Lux’s BABIP. Machado will really help the Dodgers down the stretch, and in the playoffs, and the group of kids will help the O’s over the next six plus years.

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