Baltimore Orioles Shuffle Pitchers on their 40-man Roster
The Baltimore Orioles made a flurry of moves today, mostly involving minor league pitchers and international draft slots. It seems clear that the Orioles are making a calculated gamble that the best 16 and 17 year old Latin American players aren’t worth the risk.
The O’s obtained Damien Magnifico from the Brewers and Paul Fry from the Mariners for respectively, the 15th overall international draft slot (worth $885,000) and the 105th international draft slot worth $198,000. Meanwhile, Baltimore designated Jason Garcia and Parker Bridwell for assignment and traded Oliver Drake to the Brewers for cash or the infamous player to be named later. Phew, that’s a busy day!
I suspect that, while the Magnifico and Drake deals were announced separatedly one day apart, they are closely connected.
Ben Badler criticized the Orioles yesterday for not spending more money on international players the last few years. The O’s have spent only $260,000 on five prospects in the 2016-2017 signing period, one of whom received $150,000. According to Badler, the most expensive Orioles international signing of the last three years is the mere $350,000 given to 3Bman Jomar Reyes, who at least looks like a good return on that money so far.
I have to agree with Badler: it might have made sense not to take a high risk, high reward strategy in recent years when signing bonuses were high for the best players, as at least five or six teams flouted the rules each signing period and elected to sign as many good players for as much money as it took in exchange for losing big money signings for the next year or two. But now that there is effectively a draft with capped bonus pools, it seems crazy to me not to participate fully.
The Orioles have obviously decided they are still going to go with players closer to the majors than tender-aged international prospects, as they have now traded away what would be their 1st and 4th round international picks in the first international draft.
Looking at what the Orioles netted today, it seems highly likely that they’d have been better off with the two international slots. Magnifico and Fry are obvious improvements over the two pitchers designated for assignment to make space on the 40-man roster. Both look to have major league stuff as bullpen pitchers, are still looking for their command, and are young enough they may yet find it.
However, Oliver Drakes, although already 30, has even better stuff than Magnifico or Fry, and has the same command issues. Drake may yet be as effective a major league reliever as either Magnifico or Fry going forward, despite a a poor start (in only three AAA relief appearances) this year.
This doesn’t look like a worthy trade for 1st and 4th round international slots, unless the aforementioned player to be named later turns out to be great.