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After Davis, what's next for the Orioles?

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After Davis, what's next for the Orioles?

Where does the Chris Davis signing leave the Orioles roster? It’s now actually fairly set. Barring injuries, perhaps 20 of the 25 roster spots are set.

Even before the Davis agreement, 10 of the 12 pitchers were fairly locked in. Starters Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman are givens. In the bullpen, it’s Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day and if he’s healthy, Dylan Bundy.

Manager Buck Showalter has said he’s going with 12 pitchers, and the fifth starter and, barring trades, another bullpen spot remain open.

At the end of last season, just four spots were secure: J.J. Hardy (shortstop), Adam Jones (center field), Manny Machado (third base) and Adam Jones (center field).

The Orioles re-signed Matt Wieters to a $15.8 million qualifying offer, something that many incorrectly forecast would have a detrimental effect on the team’s ability to sign other free agents.

They traded for Mark Trumbo, a slugger who can play the outfield, first base and be the designated hitter, signed South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, and now have brought back Davis.

MORE ORIOLES: DAVIS DEAL IS HUGE

Add in Caleb Joseph as the team’s backup catcher and Ryan Flaherty as the utility infielder leaves three position player slots unaccounted for.

If he plays decently in spring training, one could be allocated to Rule 5 draftee Joey Rickard, who has on-base ability and speed. Rickard could also serve as a needed understudy to Jones in center.

Last year, the team suffered when Jones was hurt and they didn’t have an adequate fill-in.

For the moment, the favorites for the last two spots seem to be L.J. Hoes, Jimmy Paredes and Nolan Reimold. Hoes was picked up from Houston and Reimold re-signed. Paredes was under club control.

Other contenders on the roster include Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia.

Paredes has no position, but is a switch-hitter. Urrutia’s main advantage is that he’s a left-handed hitter.

Joey Terdoslavich is also a switch-hitting outfielder, but he could be removed from the roster when Davis is added to the 40-man roster.

It’s likely that the Orioles will try and sign another outfielder, preferably a left-handed hitting one. There are still some interesting choices left on the market. Matt Joyce, David Murphy and Will Venable are all still free agents, and all can play right field and bat left-handed. The Orioles have shown interest in Murphy and Venable in the past.

The Orioles’ bigger concern is finding that other starting pitcher. With the team’s payroll heading north, possibly in excess of $140 million, it seems unlikely they’ll pay the bigger money that Yovani Gallardo will likely want. Ian Kennedy, the other name starter on the market, has a reported five-year, $70 million deal, and Gallardo will certainly want something like that.

Doug Fister, who the Orioles also have had interest in, is reportedly looking for a two-year, $22 million contract. That would be a reach for the Orioles, too.

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

A post shared by @ machados13 on

RELATED LINKS: 

Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game 

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers 

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

So, the Orioles made some headlines earlier this week. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but minor league pitcher Asher Wojciechowski exercised his opt-out clause and is no longer with the organization. Please keep Orioles fans in your thoughts during this trying time.

As everyone reading this is undoubtedly already aware, the Orioles *also* made a trade yesterday, sending 26-year old superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return for their once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Orioles received a whopping five prospects from the Dodgers’ minor league system.

Yusniel Diaz, OF, 21

It’s fitting that this trade is being compared to the Erik Bedard trade, which was also a five-for-one, because Diaz could be a poor man’s Adam Jones. He’s not the prospect Jones was, but he could end up being a really nice player.

Talent evaluators are split on his ultimate ceiling. Some describe him as a bona fide stud, and others leave him off their top 100 lists. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 31st overall (by Baseball Prospectus), which, if accurate, is a terrific main piece in a package for a star rental. 

Most consider Diaz’s main flaw as a prospect to be his in-game power, though anyone watching the 2018 MLB Futures Game would be confused by that, as he became the second player ever to hit multiple home runs in the game. It’s possible that more power develops as he matures, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to hit for more power once reaching the Majors, but for now, it’s not a strength. I wouldn’t expect him to top 20 home runs in most seasons.

His bat-to-ball ability is his clearest strength, as he projects to consistently hit for a high average. His batting eye, while formerly a weakness, has become a strength in 2018, as he’s actually walked more times than he’s struck out (a rarity in this day and age). That will play well with O’s fans who are tired of seeing their players challenge strikeout records.

Dean Kremer, RHP, 22

Kremer isn’t a major name, which is a disappointment for O’s fans and one of the reasons their haul felt so uninspiring. Compared to more highly-touted prospects like Dustin May, Kremer looks like the team settled.

That said, he’s currently sporting the best K/9 ratio in the minors, and could end up being a diamond in the rough. He’s come a long way since being a 14th-round pick two years ago, and you have to wonder if the Orioles’ much-maligned pitching development can pick up where the much more successful Dodgers instructors left off.

Kremer is also notable for being the first Israeli-born player ever drafted in Major League Baseball.

Rylan Bannon, IF, 22

Bannon was an 8th-rounder last year and is having somewhat of a breakout this season. He’s leading the league in home runs, though playing in a notorious band box of a home park is skewing those numbers.

Bannon is undersized, but has a reputation of a good, if not elite, fielder. He’s a third baseman, but will likely spend some time at second as well. If the power breakout is real, he could end up a solid starter for the Orioles down the road. Again, that’s about all you can hope for in trades of this nature.

Zach Pop, RHP, 21

Pop has been described as potentially a future “right-handed Zach Britton,” which every O’s fan would take in a heartbeat. Of course, he’s not ranked like a future All-Star, as even in the weaker Orioles farm system he’s likely no better than around 25th. 

Still, the filler players in big trades like this are just lottery tickets, and considering his lack of pedigree, Pop seems like a relatively “safe” pitcher with projectability. He strikes out a lot of batters and gets a lot of ground balls, and at the very least can likely become a decent middle reliever.

Breyvic Valera, IF, 26

In a best-case scenario, Valera becomes the Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty replacement. If you squint, you can see somewhat decent upside in each of the other returning players, even despite their modest prospect rankings, but Valera is a clear utility player. 

He gets on base and hits for contact well enough to stick around and has proven capable of defending multiple positions, so there actually might be a spot for him at the end of the Orioles bench.

Overall

This trade has been described as anywhere from adequate and somewhat deflating to a great haul O’s fans should be excited about. Four of the five players have decent ceilings, though the chance of all four (or even just two of them) reaching those ceilings is highly unlikely. It’s just the nature of baseball.

Ultimately, this trade will be judged on the success or failure of Yusniel Diaz, who is the clear centerpiece of the package. Whether or not he succeeds will be partially up to him, and partially up to the front office and player development team.

If this trade is the beginning of the core for the next competitive Orioles team, then it’ll have to be considered a success. If these players each bust out of the league, then it was still the correct decision to trade Machado instead of settling for draft pick compensation, but it will still sting all the more for O’s fans seeing Manny soar to new heights elsewhere.