ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Orioles’ massive trade deadline makeover, which culminated with the unexpected July 31 trades of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, reliever Darren O’Day and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, has been debated among Orioles fans.
Many fans and people inside the game expected the Orioles to trade shortstop Manny Machado, relief pitchers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, and possibly center fielder Adam Jones, but weren’t expecting such a radical makeover.
One longtime baseball executive and scout who closely followed the Orioles moves, evaluated what they did.
“They were in the position where when you have that many free agents, and you’re having the kind of season they’re having—it happens to everybody—but when you’re in that position, it’s pretty obvious what you need to do,” he said.
“You’ve got some attractive free agents that they could still try and sign in the [offseason], the ones they’re interested in, but it’s pretty obvious that they have to trade those guys, get as big a return as they can.”
With Schoop not scheduled for free agency until 2019, and Gausman for a year after that, their deals weren’t expected.
“I was a little surprised with Gausman and Schoop having years left [before free agency],” the longtime executive and scout said. “I was not expecting them to be traded. I was expecting Brach and Britton and Machado, and possibly Jones if he OK’d it. I certainly understand Adam Jones’ desires, and he’s earned that right.”
The scout believes it might have been better to wait until the season ended to think about a trade for Gausman and Schoop.
“You could have more people to talk to maybe in the offseason,” he said. “That’s the other alternative, but certainly their free agents needed to be moved. Some of the other guys, like [Danny] Valencia, there wasn’t a match there, but he does have some value, like a Steve Pearce does against left-handed pitching.”
The Orioles could still trade Valencia or Craig Gentry, who played in a rehab game for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday night, this month. They’ll surely pass through waivers, but the return for either won’t be great.
For Machado, Britton, Brach, Gausman, Schoop and the injured O’Day, the Orioles received 15 players, three of whom — Jonathan Villar, Cody Carroll and Breyvic Valera — have already played for the team.
With so many players, it might seem that the Orioles are nearly guaranteed some good players.
“You can miss. You can miss,” the scout said. “You’d better get quality. You better feel that you can really point to a few guys that these guys are going to be good. You can miss, for sure. It happens all the time. Everybody makes mistakes.”
The centerpieces in the Machado and Britton trades are Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz and right-handed starter Dillon Tate, who are both at Bowie.
Where do all the trades leave the Orioles? Can Orioles fans expect them to be competitive in 2019 or 2020?
“You’ve got to go day-by-day and year-by-year, just progressively try and get better every chance you can,” the scout said. “Hopefully, they put enough good players on the field. They certainly need to find some pitching.”
After the Machado trade, Orioles executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said the Orioles were going to re-enter the Latin American market and spend money on scouting, analytics and player development while moving funds away from the major league roster.
“They need to improve … their Latin program, they’ve got to get that up and running,” the scout said. “You’re always looking to get better, whether it’s amateur or pro scouting, waiver claims. They’ve been good in the Rule 5 draft.”