Assessing the Returns on the Deadline-Day Deals for the Orioles
The Manny Machado deal more or less signaled it, but the Baltimore Orioles continued to embrace the “tear it to the studs” approach as the 2018 trade deadline approached on Tuesday afternoon.
While center fielder Adam Jones will remain in Baltimore for the rest of the season, the Orioles traded off most of its other appreciable assets from a team that as of this writing is just 32-74 on the season.
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In fact, the Orioles and Kansas City Royals have a combined 64 wins — fewer than the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros have as individual teams.
So while the season has gone about as poorly as anyone could have imagined, moving all this talent as the deadline makes sense as the Orioles are going for the old-school teardown and rebuild.
Here’s a look at the moves they made on Tuesday, and the returns they received.
The deal – Schoop to the Brewers
Orioles in: infielder Jonathan Villar, right-handed pitchers Luis Ortiz and Jean Carmona
Orioles out: second baseman Jonathan Schoop
The sc(h)oop on the return: This was the last deal to come through before the final bell sounded on the trade deadline, and a bit out of left field to say the least. The Brewers had already addressed their infield depth with Mike Moustakas, but rather than honing in on the starter they so desperately desired, they stayed true to their root with a keg-like infield. Schoop also had a full year of control left after this year, so it wasn’t like he was a sure thing to be dealt.
Schoop figures to play short for the Brewers — a spot he played sporadically with the O’s — which will give them an infield of Aguilar-Shaw-Schoop-Moustakas. My idea for a nickname? Half-ton pickup.
Think about it.
Anyway, the most recognizable name coming back is Villar. He’s able to play all over the infield — not necessarily capably — but is still searching for the form that saw him post a plus-3.0 fWAR in 2016. In fact, his entire career value is 3.1 fWAR, so….that gives a pretty good indication how the rest of his six-year MLB career has looked.
He’s an extreme groundball hitter with good speed, but he’s also a career .256/.324/.394 hitter. He’s Ehire Adrianza if you cut off one of his hands. It’s not good.
Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen lists Ortiz as the 12th-best prospect dealt at the deadline — out of 65, ahead of Forrest Wall — and says he’s big, hard-throwing righty who has battled injuries. It looks like his ceiling is as a No. 3-4 starter. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, but I’ve seen Rich Garces comparisons. The Fangraphs guys hung 60s on his fastball and slider, so if he isn’t durable enough to start, that should be a solid repertoire in relief.
Longenhagen ranked Carmona as the No. 21 prospect dealt at the deadline, and calls the 18-year-old shortstop a potential everyday player with a lot of growing left to do. He’s 19 and just at Rookie ball — he’s hitting .238/.298/.406 this year — but the Orioles are making the long play here, and to me it feels like the right one.
Verdict: This was a weird spot to move Schoop. He’s in the midst of a tough season, and would have brought back a whole lot more after last season. But there was no way to know the Orioles season would have been that bad, and in some ways it’s worth wondering if they felt like they waited too long to deal Zach Britton, and didn’t want that to happen again here.
Still, this feels like a decent, if unspectacular return for a guy who was going to leave in a little over a year anyway.
The deal – Gausman, O’Day to the Braves
Orioles in: left-handed pitcher Bruce Zimmerman, catcher Brett Cumberland, third baseman Jean Carlos Encarnacion, right-handed pitcher Evan Phillips, $2.5 million in international bonus money
Orioles out: right-handed pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day
The scoop on the return: Moving O’Day makes plenty of sense — he’s having a nice year, and is owed something like $12 million on the rest of his deal that expires after next season — but shipping out Gausman trips the trigger a little bit. He isn’t a free agent until after 2020, is in the midst of a decent, but not great season (4.43 ERA/4.58 FIP) and hasn’t had a truly nice season since 2016.
The talent is clearly there with the 27-year-old dating back to when the O’s took him fourth overall out of LSU in 2012, but a 4.22 ERA in under 800 innings probably qualifies as a disappointment — all things considered.
Getting back four players is always a curious proposition, as it often lends to the idea that it was a quantity over quality deal.
Or you know, the exact kind of deal the Orioles should not be looking to make, especially with multiple years of control in play.
With that in mind, however, Cumberland is ranked as the seventh-best prospect on Longenhagen’s list. He’s a bat-first catcher who may not stick behind the plate, though his power has come with low batting averages and some swing-and-miss in the profile. He’s already 23 — just four months younger than Chance Sisco — and has barely played in Double-A. It seems like a viable flier if top-end talent was not available.
And as we saw at this trading deadline, very little was.
Encarnacion is in his age-21 season, and in his four seasons on the farm with Atlanta has turned into a fairly strong prospect. There’s not much in the way of discipline in his profile, but he has some thump. For that reason, he reminds me a little bit of Detroit’s Jeimer Candelario.
Phillips has made it to the big leagues this season — 8.53 ERA in a very short cup of coffee with the Braves — but he projects as a hard-throwing righty out of the bullpen. Longenhagen notes his improved control this year, but command issues have certainly been part of his profile in the past. He’s been terrific at Triple-A Gwinnett this season: 1.99 ERA, 13.1 K/9, 51.2 percent groundball rate.
Zimmerman got a late start in pro ball as a senior sign, and at 23 has just recently reached Double-A. He’s dominated the low minors — as someone his age should — but now it’s sink-or-swim time for him. So far in Double-A this season, he’s sprinkled some good (3.14 ERA, 8.2 K/9) with the bad (4.99 FIP, 6.0 BB/9). As a fourth piece in a deal, he’s a fine throw-in.
Finally, there’s the $2.5 million in international signing money that the Orioles presumably plan to use to attempt to sign the Mesa brothers — Victor Victor (the No. 1 available player) and Victor Jr. After long scorning spending on the international front, this is probably the coup of the two deals made on Tuesday by the Orioles. Securing the top talent in the July 2 market — or post-July 2, since they haven’t been declared eligible to sign yet — is a huge move for a team desperate to add minor-league talent.
In recent years, talents like Victor Robles — the Nationals’ top prospect — have been nabbed at this time of year, so this should not be ignored as part of the return.
Verdict: It’d be easy to call this quantity over quality, but based on the landscape of this trade deadline, that’s not totally fair. Still, it feels like a better deal could have been had in the offseason, doesn’t it? With that said, pulling out all the stops to sign Mesa make this probably a fine deal to have accepted.