It has become clear that the Baltimore Orioles are taking calls from just about every team that believes they have a shot at winning the World Series in 2018 — and rightfully so. At least nine teams have already checked in on Manny Machado.
Leading up to the the non-waiver trade deadline, or at least until a trade is made, I will breakdown three prospects that Baltimore could target from some of the teams that have checked in on the 26-year-old slugger.
Since the Yankees have become the odds-on favorite, and they possess the best grouping of prospects, let’s start with them. Each prospect will include position, age, current level, and ranking within their current system, according to our preseason rankings.
For Baltimore, the number one focus should be LHP Justus Sheffield. However, given that the Yankees have ruled out the possibility of trading him, that doesn’t seem to be feasible. Given his exceptional numbers through two levels of the minors this year, mixed with the Yankees overwhelming need for help in the starting rotation, trading the No. 2 prospect in the organization for a rental player doesn’t seem smart anyway.
Especially when the Yankees could very easily sign Machado at season’s end. Do the Yankees need him to win a championship this year? No.
Would they be better off keeping Sheffield — who could probably help the rotation or bullpen down the stretch this year — and taking their chances without Machado? I vote yes.
The NY Post reported on Saturday that the Yankees are not going to deal any of their Top 10 prospects, however, that all depends on who they deem to be in that group.
Here’s a look at three names that Baltimore may try to acquire.
No. 9 SS/2B Thairo Estrada
- Age: 22 — Current Level: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Baltimore does not have much in the way of infield help down on the farm. They’ll need as many options as possible if they are looking to replace Machado. Estrada can play several positions but he appears to be best suited at shortstop. After putting up a .301 average at Double-A Trenton in 2017, he showed well in the Arizona Fall League, earning All-Prospect honors by batting .342 over 20 games. Currently on the disabled list, his 2018 season was derailed before it even began after the Venezuelan native was shot in the leg while entering a restaurant in his home country. In 18 games this year he’s batting .192 between High-A and Triple-A. He’s seen more time in Tampa (10 games) recovering than he’s seen in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (8 games).
The Yankees have several controllable infield pieces blocking Estrada, and acquiring the Baltimore superstar would make matters worse. He seems like the prime candidate to be dealt in any such deal involving Machado.
No. 13 RHP Luis Medina
- Age 19 — Current Level: Rookie-ball Pulaski Yankees
When you possess 100-mph fastballs lots of teams take interest. Since Baltimore is probably a minimum of three years away from making any amount of noise in the AL East, it stands to reason that acquiring a 19-year-old flamethrower would make sense. Having posted more walks (19) than strikeouts (14) this season, Medina is a work in progress. He will need time to command his stuff (fastball - curveball - changeup), fortunately for the Orioles they have plenty of time before they contend.
No. 18 RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
- Age: 23 — Current Level: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Having just mentioned that the Orioles were several years away from climbing the AL ranks, Loaisiga may seem like an odd selection. However, the fact remains that Baltimore still needs to put quality assets on the field and given that he fanned 21 batters over 18 innings after being called-up earlier this year, the Orioles would benefit from acquiring some big-league ready pitching.
In 2017 he pitched 32.2 innings while only allowing three walks. In the minors this year, between Tampa and Trenton, he posted a 6-1 record in 10 starts, struck out 58 in 45 innings, and walked just four. His 10.67 K/BB rate is second-best among Double-A pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched this year. And that was after he pitched 20 innings in High-A while only allowing one walk.
Currently on the DL (shoulder)— likely to miss all of July before going on a rehab assignment — if he can build on his 2018 successes next year, Baltimore could have themselves a nice trade chip for contending teams looking at pitching options.