BALTIMORE — Just about an hour after the Orioles earned a series win over the Rays on Sunday, the Orioles traded reliever Brad Brach to the Braves. The Orioles will receive $250,000 in international slot money in return for the right-hander.
In four seasons prior to 2018, Brach pitched to a 3.18 ERA or lower with the Orioles. Things have unraveled for Brach this season, inconveniently in a contract year. His 4.85 ERA in 39 innings pitched to-date marks the highest total of his career. His rookie season in San Diego saw a 5.14 ERA, but Brach only pitched seven innings in September call-ups. Brach, 32, exited the 2012 season with a 3.78 ERA, so he’s running out of time to turn what’s been the worst year of his career around.
Although Brach has struggled this season, he will be welcomed to a Braves bullpen that currently has the 19th-best ERA in the majors. Atlanta (55-47) sits 1.5 games behind the Phillies (58-47) for first place in the National League East. The NL Wild Card race is really crowded right now, so it makes sense for the Braves to add arms to their bullpen even with Brach’s recent struggles.
This trade speaks volumes to the Orioles’ efforts to restock the farm system with international talent. In recent seasons, for whatever reason, the Orioles stayed away from signing international players. In 2017, more than 350 international players joined MLB organizations. None of them were picked up by the Orioles.
As frustrating as this was, the Orioles have realized the error of their ways. For the first time in a long time, the Orioles aren’t freely giving away their international slots, but they’re adding on to what they already have in their funds.
“My strategy on the international market is to get there first, see the player first, and develop a relationship with the family and then make a good investment, get as many good young players as possible,” Duquette said on Sunday. “There’s a lot of interest in the international market because of the quality of the players and the finite number of bonus slots that clubs can utilize, so it’s a pretty interesting time right now, but it’s a good opportunity for the Orioles to get back in that market.”
After the trade became official, Brach spoke to the Baltimore media one final time. When Brach arrives in Atlanta, he will reunite with former Orioles Nick Markakis and Ryan Flaherty. Brach looks forward to the opportunity to win a ring with two former teammates who he played with in the Orioles’ American League Championship series against the Royals in 2014.
“Nick Markakis is an unbelievable teammate,” Brach said. “When I was here that one year he’s one of those guys you were always watching his every move and just kind of taking notes and that’s the guy you want to be when you’re at in his career and it’s definitely exciting to get to go and play with him again.”
“And Ryan Flaherty’s over there, who was here, and he’s one of my good friends, so it’s nice to go over there and have somebody who’s really familiar in that organization,” Brach said. “It’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”
“He gets to go to a team that is pursuing a pennant race with young players, so he’s a good veteran presence and he will be reunited with people he played with here down in Atlanta to help stabilize their club and accomplish their goals,” Duquette said. “I want to congratulate Brad personally because he did a terrific job during his time here. I was very proud of the work that he did.”
With the trade of Brach, the Orioles wrapped up their trades pertaining to pending free agents who will receive new contracts after the 2018 season. Adam Jones will also hit free agency, but he has 10/5 rights and can veto any trade the Orioles make due to his 10 years of service to the MLB.
When asked about Jones’s status, Duquette made it seem like Jones wants to stay in Baltimore for the rest of this season.
Jones lives with his family in Baltimore during the season. He’s also heavily involved in town through his outstanding community service efforts. Although Jones would love to get a chance to compete for a pennant this season, he still feels an obligation to play out his contract and stay involved in the community, at least through the 2018 season.
No matter what happens with Jones, the Orioles will discuss resigning him in the offseason, but Duquette has made it clear that the Orioles will get younger during the rebuild.
“I would expect that the club would take the payroll down next year and the year after and reinvest those resources in younger ballplayers,” Duquette said on Saturday during a Q+A with fans. “We should be able to do that and get back to competitiveness.”
Image Credit: Camden Chat