On July 18, 2018, the Los Angeles Dodgers went all in on its roster and acquired superstar infielder Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles. Now that nearly five years have passed since the trade, it seems like a good time to take a deeper look at the trade that gave the Dodgers a dominant all-around player and pushed the O’s into a new era.
The Dodgers’ Return
- 3B/SS Manny Machado
At the time of the trade, the Dodgers were the reigning National League champions that came just short of winning the World Series the year earlier. Fast forward to the the summer of 2018, and things looked very different. The Dodgers were not guaranteed a playoff spot, despite being in first place at the time of the deal. Los Angeles was in a thick battle for the top spot in the NL West come July of 2018. Arizona entered July 18 just half a game behind the Dodgers, while the Rockies were just two back of the NL champions.
The Dodgers sustained a major loss in May of that season when Corey Seager went down to season-ending surgery. While utilityman Chris Taylor did a solid job of filling in for Seager, the addition of a player like Machado made a lot of sense. The then-four-time All-Star was a versatile and very capable defender at both third base and short, and his bat could impact any game. And, Machado was on pace for a career season. Prior to the trade, Machado hit .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs and 65 runs batted in over 96 games with the Orioles.
With Los Angeles, Machado played mostly at short, although he did see some time at third. He provided excellent value at both positions, as he posted a +9 OAA (+5 at SS, +4 at 3B) over two regular season months in Los Angeles. At the plate with the Dodgers, Machado hit a respectable .273/.338/.487 with 13 home runs and 42 runs batted in over 66 games. Those numbers were fine, but his OPS dropped over 100 points during his time with the Dodgers.
In the playoffs, Machado did have an impact on the Dodgers — but perhaps not the one that was expected. In the 2018 MLB Playoffs, Machado hit .227 (15-66) with three home runs and 12 runs batted in. The veteran infielder did most of his damage in the NLCS and NLDS, but was stymied in the World Series by the eventual champion Boston Red Sox. Machado went just 4-22 in the Fall Classic and made the final out in the series-clinching Game 5 for Boston.
The Orioles’ Return
The O’s were set to undertake a major rebuild — that much was obvious. When the Orioles traded Machado, Baltimore owned one of the worst farm systems in the game and one of the worst records. With very little in the organization, the Orioles needed to nail the return for its star infielder. Unfortunately, the returns were mixed.
The most notable prospect involved in this trade was Yusniel Diaz, a Cuban sensation that looked very much like a future regular in the Majors. The scouting report on Diaz was that the ex-Dodger prospect could turn into a solid all-around hitter with average pop and great plate discipline. However, Diaz never developed into the player many thought he would become. The now-26-year-old put up a decent season in the Minors back in 2019, but saw his numbers decline in subsequent seasons. Diaz made just one plate appearance with Baltimore in 2022, before a return to the Dodgers organization.
Infielder Rylan Bannon saw his helium rise in the Dodgers farm system after being selected in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Xavier University. But like Diaz, Bannon struggled with hitting pitchers in AA and AAA. Bannon did make cameos in the Majors in both 2022 and 2023, but never turned into a regular.
The two players who did turn into valuable pieces were Dean Kremer and Zach Pop. Kremer had his ups and downs in the Minors, but he turned the corner in the 2022 season for an upstart O’s team. The 27-year-old posted a 3.23 ERA over 125.1 innings in Baltimore that season and cemented his role as a reliable starting pitcher. And as for Pop, the University of Kentucky product did well in the Minors but never cracked the Majors with the Orioles. He did, however, with the Marlins and Blue Jays from 2021-23. As of May 20, 2023, Pop owned a career ERA of 3.94 over 107.1 career innings.
In retrospect, the O’s could have done better in this deal. That much was obvious from the minute the deal was made, given that the Dodgers never gave up one of its elite prospects at the time. Dustin May wasn’t included in this deal, nor were Gavin Lux or rising star Keibert Ruiz. Still, the Orioles did manage to grab two productive Major Leaguers, one of whom is still in the organization. The deal didn’t turn out great, but it could have been worse.
And as for the Dodgers, Los Angeles did luck out on the fact that none of the players dealt for Machado burned the organization. However, one could also lament that the deal could have turned out better had the Dodgers squeaked out a World Series victory. Instead, the Dodgers now have to deal with him as a member of the San Diego Padres.