I will take a closer look at all of the pieces in this deal between the Orioles and Dodgers...a deal that really helps restock the Baltimore farm system in a hurry.
Los Angeles Dodgers Grade: A+
Receive: Manny Machado
The Dodgers really did well in this deal. They had a huge hole in the infield, and while Machado’s defense at Short isn’t good, it is still an upgrade over the Logan Forsythe/Chris Taylor middle infield with Machado and Taylor in those spots now.
Better for the Dodgers is the fact that they didn’t have to give up any of their top prospects. Guys like Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith, Gavin Lux, Dustin May and others are still staying in the system.
Did the Dodgers pay a lot? Yes. However the Dodgers system depth was as good as anyone in the game. They no longer had the elite front end that Top 5 farm systems have, but their depth in the 15-30 prospects rivaled that of the Braves, Yankees, Padres, and White Sox. There are only so many guys you can fit on the roster and the Dodgers were smart to turn some of that depth into an elite piece in a year where they could win it all.
Baltimore Orioles Grade: B/B+
Receive: Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon, Breyvic Valera
I’m not taking any points off here for not dealing Machado sooner and really hitting a home run with this return. That is the past and has nothing to do with the return today. As far as the return today, it is a solid return for a rental - probably the highest cost of any rental this summer...though it’s possible that the medicals holding this up may have cost the Orioles an even better pitching prospect in the initially rumored Dustin May.
Diaz is the headliner. The young Cuban outfielder is going to be playing his entire season at age 21 and is having a very strong year in Double A. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .314/.428/.477 with six homers and eight steals in 59 games. Diaz has split time between center and right defensively this year and with his loud toolset should be a quality defender in both spots, but maybe a special defender in right.
Diaz probably doesn’t become a star, but he makes good hard contact, has some speed, and plays strong defense. The power hasn’t always showed up in games despite his two homers at the Futures Game on Sunday, but there is some in the tank. You can fully expect Diaz to be a well above average big league regular.
The next best piece is Dean Kremer, who may be best known as the first Israeli citizen ever drafted by a MLB team...but he is way more than some footnote. Kremer was drafted for the second time in 2016 as a 14th rounder, and he’s really come into his own this year.
Kremer is a 6’3”, 180 pound right handed pitcher that has made a huge impression as a 22 year old in the California League. In 16 starts there he went 5-3 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.18 WHIP to go along with 114 strikeouts and 26 walks in 79 innings. He has made one very good scoreless start in Double A as well. On the year he has a 13.1 K/9 rate, which is huge for a starter at any level.
Kremer has a plus fastball that sits 91-94 and hits 96 with plenty of life, a hard curve that’s a true out pitch and borders along the line of a second plus pitch. Then he completes his four pitch arsenal with an average slider and change. He’s got a chance to have average command and has seen it take a real step forward this year- a big part of why he has had his breakout.
Kremer is still newer to being a pitcher, so there could be some additional growth potential in him, but there is a potential middle of the rotation arm with a floor as a late inning relief weapon. There is an argument that while Dustin May might have a higher probability of being a #3 starter, Kremer may have a better chance at surpassing that role.
Rylan Bannon is very interesting for me. He was an eighth rounder out of Xavier last year, but may have gone higher if not for below average numbers as an underclassman. After a good year in the Pioneer League after being drafted last year, Bannon jumped to High A this year. His numbers are slightly inflated by the extremely hitter friendly California League, but the third baseman is hitting .296/.402/.559 with 17 doubles, 6 triples, 20 homers, and 4 steals. He strikes out a lot (103 in 403 plate appearances), but he has also walked 59 times so far this year.
Bannon is a fringy defender at the hot corner with quite a bit of pop in his bat. He may not hit quite as well as he has this season, but the fact he is so willing to take walks helps add value. Another thing that adds value is his versatility, as he has played 22 games at second base this year as well.
Bannon is a bit of an under the radar third base prospects while he probably projects best as a utility type, it’s not out of the question to consider him a potential every day guy if he can keep hitting.
Zach Pop is a 21 year old reliever taken in the seventh round out of Kentucky last year. He started out dominating the Midwest League this year and moved up to High A, where he has very strong numbers in the California League. Out of his 43.1 innings, 27 have come in High A, and he has totaled a combined 1.04 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 47 strikeouts to 13 walks. It is worth noting his K/9 dropped from 13.2 to 7.7 as he moved up, but he has been similarly strong at both levels.
Pop is a very good relief prospect. He’s got a fastball he can run up to 99 MPH with sink and a hard slider as an out pitch. He’s also got a change that is a clear third pitch. His upside is that of a big league closer, but I think he ends up more as of a high end setup man longterm.
Breyvic Valera was acquired by the Dodgers at the end of spring training for a lower end minor league outfield prospect. Valera has 25 big league games under his belt with 20 of them coming as a Dodger this year mostly as a pinch hitter. In 56 games in Triple A he has hit .284/.350/.433 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 homers, and 4 steals.
Valera is a bench guy all the way, a utility guy who has played everywhere in his minor league career except pitcher and catcher. He can defend and run a bit and makes some contact, but he doesn’t stand out in any tool nor does he offer much power.
This is a good return for sure. Diaz can be very good. Kremer and Bannon are under the radar to many, but each has a chance to exceed expectations and become very valuable players. Pop is a potential high end reliever. Valera is more of a depth piece, but he does have some value in his versatility. I like the deal for the Orioles considering this was a rental return.