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Diaz is the lynchpin of the Orioles’ rebuilding ef 3 months 2 weeks ago #122821

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The top prospect the O’s received in their July trades , "Camden Chat’s tour through Orioles prospects over the last few weeks has finally landed us here: Yusniel Diaz, the club’s top-rated prospect on MLB Pipeline.For better or for worse, the young outfielder — who will turn 22 in four days — is the face of the Orioles’ rebuilding process. He was the shining, glimmering prize of the Orioles’ flurry of sell-off trades in July, the only consensus top-100 prospect of the 15 young players the O’s received.Years from now, when we evaluate whether the Orioles’ 2018 fire sale was successful, it may well hinge on whether Diaz lived up to his potential. NO PRESSURE, YUSNIEL.Diaz was the headliner of the five-player package the O’s received from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade on July 18. (Stacey wrote about the other four minor leaguers in that deal last month.) Reportedly, the Dodgers’ willingness to include Diaz in the trade is what tipped the scales in their favor over the Brewers and Phillies, who were both aggressive in the Machado sweepstakes but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer a prospect of Diaz’s caliber. Diaz was at peak value at the time of the trade. Not only was he batting .314/.428/.477 in Double-A, but just three days before the deal, he made his presence known to a national audience by crushing two home runs in the All-Star Futures Game. After the trade, Diaz immediately slotted in as the Orioles’ best prospect, and currently ranks No. 53 overall on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 list.But first, let’s review how he got there. The Dodgers paid a hefty sum to sign Diaz, a highly touted Cuban defector, in Nov. 2015. They gave him a $15.5 million signing bonus and had to pay another $15.5 million in penalty tax for doing so. After spending most of his first two professional seasons at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Diaz advanced to Double-A Tulsa in Aug. 2017 and excelled, posting a .333/.390/.491 batting line in 31 games at age 20.In a return engagement at Tulsa this season Roberto Clemente Jersey , Diaz laid waste to Texas League pitching. His .905 OPS in 59 games was boosted not only by his line-drive swing and hit-to-all-fields approach, but also his improvements in plate discipline. Diaz had more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) for Tulsa this season, offering an enticing on-base ability for an Orioles’ system that is distressingly low on such players.Spoiler alert: that on-base ability did not hold up once Diaz found his way into the Orioles’ organization. In fact, all his offensive numbers dipped precariously after the O’s assigned him to Double-A Bowie. In 38 games for the Baysox, he batted .239/.329/.403, with his OPS dipping over 170 points from .905 to .732.So what happened? Is Diaz suddenly a bust? Is it time for Orioles fans to panic and run around in circles, arms flailing?Of course not. Slow your roll. For starters, it’s a small sample size. Also consider that the Eastern League is tougher on hitters than the Texas League, so his stats were bound to decline somewhat. Plus, Diaz likely needed some time to get adjusted to his new environment and new coaching staff. After going 5-for-35 in his first 10 games with Bowie, Diaz heated up, batting .273/.357/.465 with four homers and 14 RBIs in his last 28 games.There’s a lot to like with Diaz, as you might expect for a top-100 prospect. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote that Diaz “could be a premium contact/on-base hitter,” describing him as “an all-fields line-drive hitter who keeps his hands inside the ball and peppers the right-center-field gap.” MLB Pipeline writes, “He makes consistent barreled contact, driving the ball with authority to all fields, with enough bat speed and strength to provide 12-15 (home runs) per season.”Those power numbers may seem a bit light, and indeed, Diaz — despite his Futures Game display — is not a big home run guy. He hasn’t more than 11 in any full professional season. Still , he has the potential to add a bit more slugging to his game. The MLB Pipeline write-up notes that Diaz “has begun to show more pop after toning down his setup and incorporating his lower half more in his right-handed swing.”On defense, Diaz’s professional starts have been almost evenly split between right field (119) and center field (103). He’s thought to be more of a corner guy long term, though, because he doesn’t quite have the speed for center. The Orioles may agree, considering that Diaz started 29 games in right compared to six in center for Bowie.Diaz seems like a safe bet to at least be a regular in the majors, but experts disagree about his ultimate upside. Longenhagen writes, “He’s very likely to hit and therefore is very likely to be a big-league contributor, but he looks more like a solid-average regular than a potential star.”’s Mike Rosenbaum is more optimistic, saying, “Diaz possesses the across-the-board tools needed to become an impactful big league regular for the Orioles in the coming years --- perhaps even an All-Star if he can add more power to his game.”Diaz’s ETA in Baltimore is 2019, and while he’s part of a crowded group of O’s outfield prospects — including Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna and the already-arrived Cedric Mullins — Diaz might have the highest ceiling of the bunch. Even if he doesn’t break out as a superstar, though, he profiles similarly to a right-handed Nick Markakis. And getting at least six Markakis-like years out of Diaz (without even getting into the other four players from the trade) wouldn’t be too shabby a return for Machado, who was on his way out of Baltimore anyway.A new era of Orioles baseball is upon us. Before long, Diaz could be the man leading the charge. There won’t be any arbitration hearings for the Orioles in Mike Elias’s first winter on the job."The Orioles headed into Friday’s deadline still needing to settle on 2019 contracts with their three arbitration-eligible players. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported first that the O’s reached agreements with each of Jonathan Villar, Dylan Bundy, and Mychal Givens.The 2019 salaries that the players and the Orioles agreed upon:Villar - $4.825 millionBundy - $2.8 millionGivens - $2.15 millionVillar, as the player who has the most service time Bill Mazeroski Jersey , is going to get the most money. It’s his second year of arbitration, where Bundy and Givens are only in their first year. MLB Trade Rumors had predicted a $4.4 million salary for Villar, $3 million for Bundy, and $2 million for Givens.Elsewhere, recent ex-Oriole Kevin Gausman settled on a $9.35 million 2019 salary with his new team, the Braves. Earlier in the offseason, the O’s decided not to tender 2019 contracts to two more arbitration-eligible players, Tim Beckham and Caleb Joseph. Beckham has since signed a $1.75 million contract with the Mariners, while Joseph remains unsigned.Recent past seasons have seen arbitration-eligible players taking up a big chunk of the budgeted payroll, so the settlements, or not, were important parts of the picture of what the O’s might be able to spend on any remaining free agents. Last season, in their final years of arbitration, Manny Machado earned $16 million and Zach Britton earned $12 million.That mattered when they were contending or pretending to contend and the question of what the O’s could afford to add to that season’s roster was an important one. The O’s just don’t have any of those sorts of players left. For the next couple of years at least, any arbitration eligible O’s who play well enough to earn the gigantic salaries, or even modest raises, will probably get traded for talent that will help in the more distant future.There isn’t going to be a Mookie Betts getting $20 million around here, or Jacob deGrom getting $17 million, each with another year of eligibility next year.The 2019 Orioles are going nowhere. We have known this since at least last May of last year. The hiring of new general manager Mike Elias has done nothing to change that reality. He has building to do to fix what was broken around here and there aren’t short-term solutions. Without any free agent expenditures Dave Parker Jersey , the Opening Day payroll is currently estimated by Cot’s Contracts to be about $77 million. That’s close to half of last year’s figure of about $148 million. The money is being reinvested in other areas of the franchise, the O’s say, and there’s no reason to doubt that yet. When Elias’s talent pipeline has been built, we’ll find out again how serious the O’s are in investing MLB payroll into staying good. Of course, part of the problem in the Dan Duquette era was not whether they’d spend money, but whether they could spend it wisely. That’s another thing we’ll find out when they start spending again.In non-arbitration news on Friday, the Orioles announced that they claimed infielder Hanser Alberto off of waivers from the Yankees. As they made this move with a full 40-man roster, they then designated catcher Andrew Susac for assignment.Alberto, 26, has 192 plate appearances scattered across three big league seasons with the Rangers in which he’s batted a combined .192/.210/.231. The Yankees had claimed him off waivers themselves in early November and then designated him for assignment earlier today when they officially signed Britton. Alberto was mostly a shortstop in the minor leagues, though he’s been used more like a utility infielder at the MLB level. Maybe he has a bit more batting potential than he’s shown in MLB so far, as he batted .309/.330/.438 across four Triple-A seasons. But that’s not many walks and not much power, with just 19 homers in that time. MLB pitchers make it harder for that profile to work.Susac, heading towards his age 29 season, appeared in nine games for the O’s last year. He was one of the many latter-day Duquette bargain basement acquisitions who did not turn out to be a solution to any of the O’s problems.
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