It has been said many times this year - the 2018 Baltimore Orioles are terrible. As of Saturday's loss in Toronto, the Orioles are 28-71 and an astounding 41 games behind the first place Red Sox in the American League East.
At this point, the only thing to play for is the chance to avoid being the first team to make a selection in the draft next June and deffer that "luxury" to another team.
The team is on pace to easily reach triple digits in the loss column which makes it hard to believe the same team - minus a few players - was popping champagne bottles in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium celebrating their third postseason berth since the "dark ages" ended in 2012. This is part of the team that swept three Cy Young award winners in the 2014 ALDS and fell just four wins shy of reaching the World Series.
The key phrase is part of.
Players have come and gone since then and the Orioles have began to go downhill since then. Early signs were the 81-81 season in 2015, barely making the 2016 Wild Card game only to let Edwin Encarnacion crush thousands of hearts back in Baltimore with one swing of the bat, and a 75-87 season in 2017 that brought the first losing season of Orioles baseball since 2011.
The front office seems to have finally realized the window has closed on the Orioles. They proved that by trading Manny Machado to the Dodgers with guys like Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Adam Jones possibly on the move by the July 31st trading deadline.
If you need further proof, Orioles executive vice president of Baseball Dan Duquette was quoted during a press conference following the Machado trade saying a word Orioles fans have unfortunately longed to hear for a while now.
Nobody likes to root for a team they can almost guarantee will find a new way to lose day in and day out, but it has become time for fans in the Charm City to embrace it once again and hope for brighter days ahead.
Rebuilds have helped teams who were once the laughing stock of the league - such as the Astros - regain realistic goals of reaching the postseason.
The Astros used their first overall pick in 2012 to get Carlos Correa. They traded away stars like Hunter Pence and developed young players down on the farm like George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, the hit machine Jose Altuve.
Lord knows the Orioles could use an overhaul down the farm. So that's what the front office is claiming the plan is.
It could just be lip service but acquiring Yusniel Diaz in the Machado trade is a great first step towards making that a reality.
Diaz, the #85 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, could be the first successful pickup of the rebuild. He could arrive in the big leagues as soon as next season, unless management would prefer to see him in Baltimore this September before their contracts expire. Scouts project Diaz to be a right fielder which fills a hole that has been open for years now.
While everybody has their own opinion on letting Nick Markakis walk in free agency, you cannot ignore the revolving door that has become the Orioles corner outfield - right field more specifically - since Markakis left. We have seen Travis Snider, Junior Lake, Gerardo Parra, Nolan Reimold, Drew Stubbs, Michael Bourn, Julio Borbon, and most recently, Colby Rasmus, play the corner outfield and quickly depart in the last four years. And who can forget the Orioles desperate experiment to convert a designated hitter like Pedro Alvarez into an outfielder last spring?
One of the best things about rebuilds is the opportunity to see young players come up and try to make an impact on the big league club. That means we could see Cedric Mullins and, when healthy, Austin Hays patrol the outfield on a regular basis at Camden Yards very soon.
Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, has gathered a few looks over the last couple of season while with Bowie and Norfolk so he could be in the mix as well. Provided his defense improves, 2015 first-round pick D.J. Stewart is also on the horizon and can also provide the ever-so-important left-handed power bat that the Orioles have oozed over (ex: Chris Davis) in the lineup the last couple years. Stewart seemed to have been the favorite to become the next name added to the lengthy list of players to try their hand in right field prior to the Machado trade when Diaz arrived in the system.
But imagine an outfield of Hays, Mullins, and Diaz. All three provide power in the lineup and speed in the field and on the bases and Diaz has been noted to have a "plus" arm which is always a valuable weapon to have in the outfield.
With Machado out west in Dodger blue now, the estimated arrival of Ryan Mountcastle may have been bumped up. Another first round pick in 2015, Mountcastle has slugged his way through the minor leagues and is currently anchoring the lineup in Bowie. Like Machado, Mountcastle was drafted as a shortstop before moving to third base, a move scouts predicted would happen when the Orioles picked him.
The Orioles have the option of replacing Tim Beckham as part of the rebuild and finding someone else to share the left side of the infield with Mountcastle, but that replacement probably will not come from letting Beckham go. The key to rebuilds is dealing away your best players like a Britton, or a Machado to help restock the farm system with prospects that teams will have years of control in and building around them. While Beckham was acquired from Tampa Bay last summer for minor league pitcher Tobias Myers, a simple one-for-one trade seems to be all the Orioles would be able to get if they were to shop a player of Beckham's caliber at this point in his career.
Another option is holding on to Beckham for a few more years until Rylan Bannon, a third baseman who came over from the Dodgers last week, is ready. Bannon has hit 30 home runs in the lower minor leagues this season and could shift Mountcastle back to short. They are teammates in Bowie now, after all.
Another return from the Machado trade is Dean Kremer, a young starting pitcher who could join the likes of Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the big league rotation during this rebuild. But if all doesn't go well with Bundy and Gausman, they too could find themselves on the block with hopes of younger prospects coming back. The Dodgers have asked the Orioles about Gausman in the past so it would not be a bad idea to at least field offers on anyone and everyone on the team.
So, we are now currently in the rebuilding era. Nobody wanted it, but at the same time everybody did. But a successful rebuild could bring postseason baseball back to Baltimore and maybe even the first commissioners trophy since 1983. Three prospects from the Machado trade could make an impact in the very near future whether it be on the field or even being flipped in another trade. Future trades could only help the Orioles even more if they negotiate the same way they did to deal our prized shortstop. Duquette also hinted at the Orioles finally getting into the international market and signing prospects out of Cuba and the Dominican Republic like many other teams have done and found success with. It could have been just a quote to comfort the frustrated fan base but the thought of tearing down and starting fresh and following the blueprints that teams like the Astros have set down is encouraging and exciting. That is why it is time to rebuild and focus on the next generation of Baltimore Orioles.