Franco signing didn't work out for Orioles; Possible players up for promotion; Tough finish -


Franco signing didn’t work out for Orioles; Possible players up for promotion; Tough finish

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

When the Orioles signed Maikel Franco, it appeared to be a solid move. For the previous two seasons, the Orioles’ regular third baseman had been Rio Ruiz, a decent player, but the Orioles were looking for an upgrade. They thought they’d found it  in Franco.

From 2016-2019 with the Philadelphia Phillies, Franco averaged 22 home runs and 72 RBIs. In 2018, he hit .270. In last year’s 60-game season, Franco, then with Kansas City, hit eight homers and drove in 38 runs with a .278 batting average — perfectly acceptable numbers. Plus, he played in every game.

Even with those numbers, Franco wasn’t in demand. After making $5.2 million in 2018, the Phillies didn’t offer him a contract, and the Royals signed him for $2.95 million.

Franco had never measured well analytically. He doesn’t walk much and wasn’t considered a plus-third baseman, although he made a number of strong plays for the Orioles. Other than Ruiz, the Orioles didn’t have a major league-ready third baseman. If Franco had a good first half, then perhaps they could flip him for a prospect at the trade deadline, as they did with shortstop Freddy Galvis, an ex-teammate of Franco’s in Philadelphia.

It didn’t work out that way for Franco, who had a .210 average with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs when he was designated for assignment on Monday. The Orioles also sent shortstop Richie Martin to Triple-A Norfolk and promoted second baseman  Jahmai Jones.

On Tuesday, before they try to end their 18-game losing streak against Dylan Bundy and the Los Angeles Angels, they’re expected to promote third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez from Norfolk. Gutierrez played third when Franco was on the injured list in late July because of a sprained ankle. In eight games, Gutierrez hit .174.

Another option for promotion was Rylan Bannon, who has been on a tear, hitting nine homers and driving in 17 runs in his last nine games for Norfolk. Bannon’s average for the season is just .173, although he has a .421 slugging average. He missed a month because of an oblique injury from late May through late June.

Bannon was added to the 40-man roster last November and can play second and third. The Orioles are eager to see him, and he probably will get a call next month.

September suspense: The Orioles are getting a jump on roster additions by adding Jahmai Jones, the second baseman who came from the Los Angeles Angels for Alex Cobb.


Jones’ promotion has been expected, and he’ll probably get a long look at second base. Richie Martin’s demotion probably means more time at shortstop for Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo, who has gotten starts at short, second, third and the corner outfield positions.

On September 1st, eight days from now, the Orioles will add two players when the roster increases from 26 to 28. Although there are likely to be more roster moves between now and then, there are several players the Orioles might want to see.

Bannon is one of those players. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz would be another if he ever gets hot. Bannon, Diaz and Dean Kremer, all at Triple-A Norfolk, are the players remaining in the organization from the July 2018 trade that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Diaz is batting just .183 with two  homers and 11 RBIs in 29 games with the Tides. After missing three weeks with turf toe and a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie, Diaz is 6-for-24 (.250) in seven games at Norfolk.

Injuries and poor performance have cost Diaz opportunities with the Orioles. Those chances instead went to Ryan McKenna, who was sent down to Norfolk when Ryan Mountcastle came off the injured list.

During his 22 games with the Tides, McKenna has hit .306 with a 1.135 OPS. Although he hasn’t hit well with the Orioles, (.208 with a .615 OPS), McKenna has given manager Brandon Hyde an excellent late-inning option in left field and as a pinch-runner.

If the Orioles add an extra bullpen arm, they’ll have 15 pitchers, with 10 relievers, and that should be enough.

Kremer pitched poorly with the Orioles (0-7, 7.25), but the team has a lot invested in him. Recently, he has pitched three times in relief for Norfolk, and it seems likely that he’ll be added.

Mike Baumann, who pitches on Tuesday night for Norfolk against Jacksonville, also intrigues the Orioles, but he’s started only four times for the Tides. Even though he has a 2.81 ERA, he was removed from his last start after 39 pitches in the first inning.

Because Norfolk’s season ends on October 3rd, there likely will be many moves, with players getting recalled and optioned. If there’s an injury that’s suspected to be season-ending, that player could be placed on the 60-day injured list so that a non-roster player could be added.

Other pitchers who could get another look are left-hander Alexander Wells and relievers Dusten Knight and Conner Greene, who was claimed by the Orioles just two weeks after he was claimed from Baltimore by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both Knight and Greene are on the 40-man roster.

Right-hander Zach Burdi, claimed on August 18th from the Chicago White Sox, also could get a look.

More beasts of the East: When the Orioles attempt to end their 18-game losing streak against the Angels, they’ll be playing a sub-.500 team, one of the few remaining on their schedule.

Beginning August 2nd, which was the last time they won, just 14 of their final 58 games are against teams with a record below .500. That doesn’t guarantee success because the Detroit Tigers swept them in three games, and the Orioles have the worst record in baseball.

Thirty-eight of the final 58 are against the American League East. They’re 13-38 against Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto. They’ve lost 15 of 16 to the Rays. If the Orioles are swept by the Angels, that will tie the club record 21-game losing streak. Tampa Bay follows the Angels to Baltimore next weekend, and the Phillies’ major league record of 23 consecutive losses, set in 1961, would be in sight.

Besides the Angels, who 62-64 and swept the Orioles in three games in Anaheim last month, the Orioles have four games each at home next month against Kansas City (55-68) and Texas (43-80). The Orioles took two of three from the Royals and Rangers earlier this season.

Notes: Bowie first baseman J.D. Mundy has been placed on the injured list because of a broken right thumb. … The Orioles released infielder Malquin Canelo, who was at Bowie, and left-handed pitcher Ryan Wilson from High-A Aberdeen.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. musicmanjr

    August 24, 2021 at 7:45 am

    I’d almost forgotten how effectively the Dodgers fleeced the O’s in the Manny Machado deal. Three years later, and basically all we have are AAA players.

    Rylan Bannon, Dean Kremer and Yusniel Diaz for Manny Machado has to rank up there with Frank Robinson for Doyle Alexander in Horrible Oriole Trades.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 24, 2021 at 7:54 am

      That’s a strange analogy. Alexander was part of the package that the Orioles sent to the Yankees for Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May and Dave Pagan. The others traded with him were Elrod Hendricks, Grant Jackson, Ken Holtzman and Jimmy Freeman, so I would say that worked out brilliantly in the long run.

      Let’s give Bannon, Diaz and Kremer another year before making a judgement.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 24, 2021 at 8:28 am

        I agree Rich. You can’t give up on any of these 3 yet.

      • musicmanjr

        August 24, 2021 at 8:37 am

        You’re correct about that O’s-Yankee trade. We definitely got the better part of that deal.

        As a lifetime Oriole fan, I will wait to see how Bannon, Kremer and Diaz pan out. The deal was made in 2017. Shouldn’t take nearly four years for genuine prospects to produce, or even appear at the Major League level. Seriously doubt trading these guys individually, or in a package, gets us anything resembling a “Dempsey, McGregor, Martinez” return.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 24, 2021 at 8:52 am


        Agree with your sentiment about Bannon, Diaz and Kremer. Although I believe that we all can agree that those players (especially Diaz and Kremer) have tested our patience greatly. These three are lucky, I guess, that they are in an Organization as bereft of talent as the Orioles are and still have another chance 3+ years after the trade.

        It’s impossible to get “fleeced” in a trade for a 3 month rental–which is exactly what #13 turned-out to be for the Dodgers.

      • Raveonjo

        August 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm

        And then Rudy May was traded for Don Stanhouse, Gary Roenicke and Joe Kerrigan, so that F. Robby trade to the Dodgers laid down good roots for Oriole Magic on the other side of the 70’s decade.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 24, 2021 at 8:45 am

      The deal was made in 2018, not 2017, and you’re probably right about resales, but check back with me in a year.

    • 33d St

      August 24, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      We were never gonna get much for 3 months worth of Manny. It’s actually pretty good these 3 are still around with a shot at being contributors. It certainly hasn’t been a windfall for us but far from a disaster. And as always: it’s only a bad deal if they turned something better down. If not, then this is exactly what the market for 3 months of Manny Machado was during the summer of 2018.

  2. OsfansinWV

    August 24, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Losing streak ends tonight!! And as far as 3rd base goes, speaking of Franco “other than Rio Ruiz, Orioles didn’t have a major league ready 3rd baseman”…….. NOT sure you call Ruiz major league ready!!! Hitting .173 this season and .214 for his career! As we’re not expected to win much until 2024-2027 bring up the prospects and see what they have, they’ll end up being traded in a few years for more prospects anyways????

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 24, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Not quite sure of why the quick trigger on Martin? I’d have rather kept him around than Urias. As well as Ramon has hit this year, (shockingly well) he’s coming back to earth lately. Frankly, his defense is lacking….doesn’t have a lot of range and seems to have problems going to his left into the hole. I frankly don’t see him as an every day shortstop, or an every day anything really.

    • cedar

      August 24, 2021 at 8:44 am

      I agree. With nothing to play for, why not allow Martin to finish the season at shortstop? I’d much rather see an infield rotation of Bannon, Martin, Jones, Mateo and Mountcastle and get a better idea of what contributions they can make.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 24, 2021 at 8:49 am

      Ken, this team hasn’t gone more than three days without a transaction this month. I think they want to look at Mateo at short as well as Urias. As I wrote, there are likely to be many more transactions in the final six weeks, so don’t be certain Martin won’t be back. They need to look at as many of the infielders as they can to see if they can help them in 2022 while they wait for the 2019 and 2020 draftees, and others, to get higher minor league experience.

      • Phil770

        August 24, 2021 at 12:14 pm

        Thank you, Rich. Agree with your assessment. Mateo came up as a shortstop, let’s see what he can do for an extended stretch. I think Urias is a utility alternative. Bring up Bannon for 3B Martin can play SS every day at Norfolk. We have to see if Jones can actually play 2B, hopefully he can improve from adequate. Does Stewart have any options remaining?

        • Rich Dubroff

          August 24, 2021 at 5:48 pm

          Stewart has one option remaining, Phil.

    • CalsPals

      August 24, 2021 at 8:59 am

      Hyde said earlier that higher milb experience wasn’t necessary, has he changed that or does he not have a say?…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 24, 2021 at 10:03 am

      Hyde was referring to Lowther and McKenna, who were promoted out of necessity and were scheduled to play at Norfolk in 2020.

    • CalsPals

      August 24, 2021 at 10:09 am

      So basically it only applies when they want it to, gotcha….go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 24, 2021 at 11:13 am

      Jordan Westburg, their best infield prospect, was drafted last year and is in his first year of pro ball. He’s already been promoted twice, from Delmarva to Aberdeen and last week to Bowie. He’s played six games for the Baysox. Are you suggesting he’s ready for the majors?

      He could well be here a year from now. He’s already ahead of schedule.

    • CalsPals

      August 24, 2021 at 12:26 pm

      If you’re talking to me, no, merely said when it applies, basically they can do what they want when they want, but since you asked, is Adley ready?…go O’s…

  4. Orial

    August 24, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Bashing the Machado trade at this point is almost like you’re “wanting” it(the deal) to fail. Agree Rich too soon to give up on the deal. Kremer,Bannon may still work out. Diaz,the Gem of the deal,is becoming a long shot but ya never know. There does seem to be some clarification/hope on the middle IF situation. Urias,Mateo,Jones seem to be a decent core looking forward to 2022–I hope. I see McKenna,Kremer,Baumann,Bannon(maybe),and a couple of relievers getting the Sept. call-up. Franco,whose fielding out did his hitting(surprisingly),just never fit in. His seeming lack of hustle may have been just that–seeming. Some players can perform with that laidback approach and get away with if they show the numbers. He didn’t(show the numbers) so all his mannerisms became magnified. Either way it didn’t reflect well on a supposedly young,learning team. Win total going forward doesn’t matter but it’s about time someone steps up and impresses. If there’s one dissapointing aspect of this season’s team it’s the lack of improvement from the younger core.

  5. Orioles20

    August 24, 2021 at 9:32 am

    About time for Franco. Should’ve been done months ago. Hopefully Stewart is next. No reason for him to even be on the roster anymore. Didn’t expect to see Jones just yet. The injury really set him back a bit and he’s just now getting going. I don’t why we are just now getting rid of guys that should’ve been gone months ago like Valdez and Franco.

  6. Bumble bee

    August 24, 2021 at 9:33 am

    I don’t care wins and loses, taking my boy to see his first orioles game on Thursday. What’s the chance that we finally see someone hit the warehouse this week (ohtani) especially with our AA pitching.

    • dlgruber1

      August 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      Bumble bee, I understand the gates don’t open until an hour before the games now but do your best to show him everything-the statues of O’s Hall of Famers, the Wall of Fame and my fav thing, walking along Eutaw St. and looking at all the plaques on the street where HRs have landed. Standing there and looking at how far away home plate is always amazes me. If you’re lucky maybe Boog will be there himself at his Pit Beef location. Anyway, I hope you both really enjoy yourself. Make sure you get someone to take pictures of both of you at the statues. You do know that if they win that night to end the losing streak you MUST take him to many more games.

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 24, 2021 at 5:49 pm

        Dave, Boog no longer works at his stand. He now lives in Florida fulltime.

    • dlgruber1

      August 24, 2021 at 7:04 pm

      Thanks Rich, I wasn’t aware of that. Can’t say I blame him. 80 is getting up there. Is his stand still there? I might be going this Friday night.

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 24, 2021 at 7:26 pm

        The stand is still there. He lost his wife a few years ago.

  7. Bhoffman1

    August 24, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Bannon, Mateo and Jones could make for a interesting infield. I agree with Boog Urias is a nice utility guy not a starter

  8. Bman

    August 24, 2021 at 9:36 am

    They’re getting a look at Jones and Mateo. Bannon could be getting a look soon too. I would expect Baumann to get a September call up as well. It’s good to see the Os cutting some dead weight to end the year and bringing up prospects. Tonight’s game will be fun to watch. I do think the losses end against the angels.

    • CalsPals

      August 24, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Hopefully this year…lol…go O’s…

    • Icterus fan

      August 24, 2021 at 6:30 pm

      Bundy is probably our best shot at a W this series.

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