In July 2018, when the Orioles began their rebuild by trading Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they received five players in return. The most heralded of those players was outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who had just hit two home runs in the Futures Game.
After four years of injuries and disappointing performances, the Orioles removed Diaz from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple-A Norfolk after he cleared waivers. He refused the outright assignment and filed for free agency.
Starting pitcher John Means, who had Tommy John surgery in late April, was returned to the 40-man roster from the 60-day injured list.
Just before Diaz was traded to the Orioles along with starter Dean Kremer, reliever Zach Pop and infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera, he hit .314 with a .905 OPS with six home runs and 30 RBIs for Double-A Tulsa.
With Bowie, Diaz hit only .239 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 38 games. Back with the Baysox in 2019, Diaz, who had hamstring and quadriceps injuries, hit .262 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIS, but after the canceled minor league season of 2020, things went south.
Diaz hit a combined .161 in 65 games at Triple-A Norfolk and Bowie in 2021, losing time because of a groin injury and turf toe.
In 2022, Diaz played in just 70 games because of another hamstring injury and hit .251 with six home runs and 34 RBIs at Norfolk. He got a brief call to the majors and played one inning in right field and struck out in his only major league at-bat on August 1st at Texas after the Trey Mancini trade.
The 40-man roster is at 34. The team will add minor leaguers eligible for next month’s Rule 5 draft on December 7th to the 40-man roster next week.
Notes: Outfielder Johnny Rizer, the Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick in 2019, has retired. Rizer, who was limited to 22 games for Norfolk, underwent hip surgery this year. He hit .194 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. … Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, Félix Bautista and Cionel Pérez are on the ballot for the All-MLB Team. Fans can vote through November 22nd at 5 p.m. at mlb.com/allmlb every 24 hours. The winners will be announced at the Winter Meetings on December 6th.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in the coming days. Please email: [email protected]