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Outfielder Yusniel Díaz Is Orioles' New $30 Million Man

July 19, 2018
Following the announcement of Manny Machado's trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers July 18, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sure didn't sound like a man who was planning on going anywhere, so we may want to pump the brakes a bit on the idea of Duquette being a dead-man walking.

In fact, Duquette pointed to the rebuilds of other clubs as an example of how the Orioles need to address their weaknesses. The Orioles may not have reeled in a player quite as good as the New York Yankees did in infielder Gleyber Torres as part of their haul from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for left-hander Aroldis Chapman in 2016. But Cuban outfielder Yusniel Díaz sure as hell cost the Dodgers a lot of money to initially acquire as an international free agent.

According to Duquette, not only did the Dodgers give Díaz a $15.5 million signing bonus in November 2015, he cost the Dodgers an additional $15 million as a penalty for overspending on their international signing allotment.

Díaz, who became just the second player to hit two home runs during an All-Star Futures Game July 15, is clearly the No. 1 chip the Orioles needed to rein in to tip the balance of trade talks toward the Dodgers.

But the Orioles also picked up four other players in addition to Díaz, including infielder Rylan Bannon, who, at his best, could be a second baseman in the mold of the retired Dan Uggla. The club also acquired a starting pitcher and reliever, both of whom may project to be big leaguers by 2020. 

The starting pitcher is right-hander Dean Kremer, who might become the first Israeli citizen to become a major leaguer. Born in California, he pitched for Israel during a qualifier for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. You have to like the huge improvements he made at High-A Rancho Cucamonga from 2017-2018. Kremer's ERA was 5.18 in 2017. To come back this year and drop it to 3.30 is a sign he is paying attention to what his teachers are telling him. Additionally, he lowered his WHIP from 1.50 to 1.18. He struck out 114 batters during 79 innings at High-A this year. 

Kremer was just elevated to Double-A Tulsa, where he threw seven innings of shutout ball, allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out 11 July 5.

Right-hander Zach Pop -- and who doesn't like that name -- is out of the University of Kentucky and projects as a late-inning set-up guy who, when used in shorter outings, carries velocity in the high 90s.

All four of these players will deepen the farm system substantially and give Orioles fans good reason to drive down to Double-A Bowie in the near future.

Infielder Breyvic Valera, the last player in the deal, is someone Duquette has tried to acquire before. While Valera will start off at Triple-A Norfolk and might be the first player out of the deal to make the big leagues, he's the player of least consequence with respect to the long-term future of the Orioles.

Look for the Orioles to move left-handed reliever Zach Britton for two-to-three players in an effort to further fortify a minor league system that's headed for some substantial changes in the near-term.

Photo Credit: Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers.