The Baltimore Orioles couldn’t have asked anything more of Manny Machado when they selected him 3rd overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. He’s a four-time all-star, time gold glove, and finished top 10 in the MVP voting three times. Nevertheless, Baltimore wasn’t able to get over the hump with him due to numerous bad decisions. As it became clear that they weren’t going to be able to resign Machado this offseason, the Orioles had no choice but to trade Machado. They eventually traded Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers the day after the All Star Game for a package headlined by outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz, the 84th ranked prospect in the MLB. This is an extremely underwhelming package for Machado, even though the 26-year-old superstar was about to become a free agent, and the Orioles handled this situation really bad.
Let’s take a closer look at Yusniel Diaz, the main player in this prospect package. As mentioned before, Diaz ranks as the 84th prospect in baseball. He doesn’t have a weakness, as he’s a well-rounded player and projects to be both a solid player and solid fielder. He’s hitting .314/.428/.477 with 6 home runs in Double-A and also hit two home runs in the MLB Futures Game. He’s been improving on his approach to the plate constantly, but it’s important to remember that was with the Dodgers. The Dodgers are well known for being excellent with player development, which would explain Diaz’s quick development into a top 100 prospect. However, Baltimore hasn’t had the same luck with player development. Machado was going to be a star no matter what, and that’s the only superstar they’ve been able to develop. Former top prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman haven’t become the aces they were supposed to be, while young players Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop have heavily regressed. This isn’t it though, 2009 first round pick (5th overall) Matt Hobgood never made the majors, and in total less than half of the roster is from homegrown talent. This shows that the Orioles aren’t as strong with their player development, and they might have been better off getting a sure thing with a higher floor rather than going for a high ceiling. Diaz looks like a solid prospect, but we’ve seen this story with the Orioles before and it never ends well.
The rest of the package is even more underwhelming. Only two of the other prospects, pitcher Dean Kremer (LAD 28th) and third baseman and Rylan Bannon (LAD 27th) are even ranked in the Dodgers top 30 prospects. Kremer is a project, as he’s new to pitching and has more potential as a reliever than a starter. Bannon has a ceiling of a bench player, so there’s not a lot of value there as well. The other two prospects, pitcher Zach Pop, and infielder Breyvic Valera also aren’t promising. Pop is only a reliever and doesn’t stand out, while Valera is already 26 and has a -0.1 WAR in limited action in the MLB this season. If you look at rentals from years past, trading Aroldis Chapman got the Cubs the 24th best prospect in the MLB (Gleyber Torres) and the 75th best prospect in the MLB (Billy McKinney). Even the Rangers got a better package by trading Yu Darvish last season to the Dodgers, as they got Los Angeles’ 4th best prospect (in 2017) in Willie Calhoun and the Dodgers 17th best prospect and 27th best prospect in 2017 as well. Darvish at that time had a good but not great 3.44 ERA and wasn’t even the top pitcher available at the trade deadline (Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray). Machado, on the other hand, is hitting .315 and was the best available player on the trade market by far. They had seven teams bidding on him, so getting the 84th best prospect in the MLB and nothing else is a disappointment.
I’d give the Orioles a “D+” on this trade. Sure, Diaz looks like a promising player, but I doubt the Orioles develop him into the star many believe he could be. They also did much worse with Machado than other teams have done with rentals in the past. Machado was by far the best player on the trade market, and they settled for an extremely underwhelming package.