Image credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
For the third consecutive year, the Dodgers have made a trade deadline splash.
The Dodgers officially won the sweepstakes for Manny Machado from the Orioles on Wednesday, acquiring the young superstar in exchange for five prospects: outfielder Yusniel Diaz, righthanders Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, third baseman Rylan Bannon and second baseman Breyvic Valera.
Despite a reputation for being stingy with prospects, the Andrew Friedman-Farhan Zaidi administration has shown a willingness to deal from their farm system to acquire rental players in recent years. In 2016 the Dodgers traded three pitching prospects to the Athletics in exchange for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill, both of whose contracts expired at the end of the season. Last year the Dodgers traded three prospects to the Rangers in exchange for Yu Darvish, who left to sign a free-agent deal with the Cubs after the season.
Now they have Machado, who is expected to command one of the largest free agent contracts in history at the conclusion of the season. For now, the Dodgers have him for two months, significantly strengthening their chances of returning to the World Series.
Yusniel Diaz, OF
The Dodgers signed Diaz for $15.5 million out of Cuba in 2015 and watched him make substantial improvements each year as he’s blossomed into a top prospect. He hit .314/.428/.477 with 10 doubles, four triples, six home runs and more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) this season at Double-A Tulsa while rapidly improving as a center fielder, and he hit two home runs in the Futures Game on Sunday. A physical, athletic outfielder, Diaz consistently brings the barrel to ball with authority and drives it on a line gap-to-gap. He doesn’t always generate the launch angle to put the ball over the wall, but he frequently bangs doubles off of it, and in the Futures Game his two home runs went out to the middle of the field on a line. Diaz is above-average runner underway and has a chance to stick in center field with the improvements he’s made in his routes and communication this year. He tracks back well and is improving coming in. Even if Diaz loses a step as he gets bigger, he has the hitting ability and power potential to stick in a corner, with a plus arm that works in right field. Diaz ranked as the Dodgers No. 3 prospect, and has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order outfielder for years to come.
Dean Kremer, RHP
Kremer was born and raised in Stockton, Calif., but is the son of two Israeli military veterans and holds dual citizenship. He became the first Israeli citizen ever drafted when the Dodgers picked him in the 14th round out of UNLV in 2016. After switching from a sinker/slider pitcher to a four-seam fastball/curveball pitcher in the offseason, Kremer experienced a breakout 2018 and ranks third in the minors with 125 strikeouts. Kremer sits 90-95 mph on his fastball some days and 92-96 on others, and it has tremendous carry through the top of the zone to draw swings and misses. His uses his curveball to steal strikes early in the count, and his slider projects to be a plus out pitch as he learns to shape it and move it in and out of the zone. He also has a nascent changeup. Kremer draws comparisons to Ross Stripling as someone with carry to his fastball, a four-pitch mix and who pounds the zone. He just came off of pitching seven shutout innings with three hits allowed and 11 strikeouts in his Double-A debut, and is expected to begin his Orioles career in Double-A as well.
Rylan Bannon, 3B
Bannon won Big East Conference Player of the Year at Xavier in 2017 and was drafted by the Dodgers in the eighth round. Though undersized at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Bannon has always hit and hit for power. He jumped straight to high Class A this year in his first full season and hit .296/.402/.559 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs for Rancho Cucamonga, and earning California League All-Star honors and reaching the finals of the Cal League Home Run Derby. Bannon has a slightly unorthodox setup with an extremely open stance and an uppercut swing, but he’s on time, doesn’t chase and turns around good velocity. Fastballs with rise through the zone give him some trouble with his swing path, but he gets to everything else. Most evaluators see Bannon as a potential utilityman rather than an everyday player because his defense at third base is slightly below average, and he has recently begun playing an increased amount of second base as well. Bannon’s bat will carry him, and how much defensive versatility he’s able to add will determine if he gets into a big league lineup.
Zach Pop, RHP
A seventh-round pick out of Kentucky in 2017, Pop emerged as the Dodgers most dominant relief prospect this season and shot through three levels up to Double-A. At his best, Pop has a vicious 94-96 mph fastball with plus sink and an above-average slider with swing-and-miss potential. He’s not always consistent though, and at other times sits 92-94—albeit still with plus sink—and a loose, below-average slider at 83-84 mph. Pop’s stuff plays up out of an unconventional arm slot, and hitters don’t square him up even when his stuff isn’t at its best. He projects as a potential late-inning reliever with a chance to be in the majors as soon as next year.
Breyvic Valera, 2B
Valera is in his ninth professional season and has played 25 major league games. He’s a patient contact hitter who has solid hands, good instincts and sneaky range defensively at second base, and he can fill in at third base and the corner outfield too. Valera lacks any plus tools and projects primarily as an up-and-down organizational utilityman. He is currently in Triple-A and is ready to fill that role now.
Manny Machado, SS
Machado, simply, brings the Dodgers one of the best hitters in the game. The longtime standout is in his best season yet, batting .315/.387/.535—all career-highs—with 24 home runs, 65 RBIs and nearly as many walks (45) as strikeouts (51). The power in the Dodgers lineup leans lefthanded—home run leaders Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger are both lefties and the Dodgers have more home runs lefthanded (68) than righthanded (61) this year—and Machado helps provide balance to the lineup. Machado will slide into the Dodgers starting shortstop spot, which Chris Taylor has primarily filled since Corey Seager was lost for the year after having Tommy John surgery. Machado’s acquisition allows the Dodgers to slide Taylor to second base and upgrade the position—Dodgers second basemen have batted a combined .216/.302/.291 this season—or move him back to center field, where a rotating cast of characters have filtered in and out throughout the year. Machado is a free agent after the season and will likely be allowed to walk with Seager due back next year and Justin Turner entrenched at third base, but his potential to lift the Dodgers to a second straight World Series was too much to pass up.