Orioles trade Brad Brach to Braves for $250K in international slot money

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 

 

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Orioles finish June with 6-2 loss to Angels

BALTIMORE — On Saturday afternoon the Baltimore Orioles dropped a late afternoon game against the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 and extended their losing streak to seven straight.

After almost getting shutout in Friday’s series opener, the Orioles offense struck early on Saturday with two runs in the first inning. Tim Beckham got it started in the leadoff spot with a single to set the table. Adam Jones immediately followed him with a single of his own, allowing Beckham to round second and safely head to third. Manny Machado came up to bat next and battled Tyler Skaggs in a lengthy plate appearance before bringing Beckham in with an RBI single to left field.

The offense slowed down from here but the O’s still managed to push another run across with a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia. That would end the offensive output for the O’s on Saturday evening. The lineup went ice cold, just like the night before, and only mustered three more hits through the next eight innings.

Andrew Cashner got the start for Baltimore and did his best to make those two runs count. Cashner surrendered just one run in the fourth and finished his night after six innings. This quality start rounds out Cashner’s best month of the season so far. The veteran starter will finish June with a 3.21 ERA in five starts.

Brad Brach picked up where Cashner left off by completing a clean 1-2-3 inning on 17 pitches. Going into the eighth the Orioles maintained their slim 2-1 lead but it was only a matter of time before the inconsistent bullpen broke down.

Mychal Givens got the first out of the eighth but then unraveled by giving up a pair of walks and an RBI double to Albert Pujols. Buck Showalter quickly replaced Givens with Tanner Scott but the rookie pitcher could not stop the bleeding. Scott issued a walk to Andrelton Simmons before Chris Young brought home the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice. Two more runs were scored in the inning after Scott hit Martin Maldonado with the bases loaded and then gave up a two-RBI single to David Fletcher.

When it was all said and done the Angels had not only come back, but also picked up a comfortable 6-2 lead. As you might have guessed, this lead was very safe through the final two innings and Los Angeles picked up their fifth win against the O’s this season.

The Orioles will finish June with a 6-20 record, meaning their latest incredibly miserable feat is not winning a single game against an American league team all month. The Orioles have also dropped 17 of their last 18 home games as they limped through the half way point of the season with the worst record in the league, 23-59.

Image credit: Gail Burton / Associated Press 

Orioles extend losing streak to seven after getting swept by Red Sox

Game 1 (2-0 BOS): After dropping a pair of extra inning games this past weekend in Toronto, the Orioles returned home on Monday and found themselves in yet another close battle that needed more than nine innings to resolve itself. Of course the O’s ended up on the losing end thanks to the offense taking the night off.

It’s no secret that the Orioles have been struggling to score runs recently. At their best they may put up three runs and we saw even less run production when the O’s played the Mets last week without a designated hitter. That felt like the lowest the offense could get but we now know that is wrong. On Monday the Orioles played without their best player as Manny Machado was left out of the lineup with an illness. Many fans expected the O’s to struggle without Machado, but getting shutout through twelve innings was still a new low for this offense.

The good news is the Orioles pitching staff showed up to play and did their best to extend the game as long as possible. Dylan Bundy got the start and allowed just three hits while striking out seven in eight innings of work. This deep outing would end up being even more appreciated as the game remained scoreless through regulation.

Richard Bleier kept the momentum going following Bundy’s exit and struck out two while retiring the side in the ninth on just eight pitches. Brad Brach was also fairly effective in 1.2 innings of work. The inconsistent reliever has cost the O’s a handful of games this season, but he provided a decent outing on Monday.

Brach made his way through the tenth inning without much trouble and then proceeded to get the first two outs of the eleventh pretty quickly. However, Brach put the next two batters on base and was forced out of the game before he could complete the inning.

Mychal Givens came in looking to shut the door and keep the Red Sox scoreless but proceeded to walk another batter and load the bases. To make things even more intense, Givens quickly fell behind Mitch Moreland in the next at bat and was now facing a 3-0 count. With his back against the wall, Givens reared back and delivered three straight fastballs to strikeout Moreland and escape the high tension moment.

You would hope an escape like that would kick the offense into high gear going into the bottom half of the inning, but the O’s remained uninspired at the plate. Chris Davis, Chance Sisco and Jace Peterson were due up but all three batters struck out and the game continued.

Givens made his way out of the eleventh by the skin of his teeth but the twelfth was not as kind. Givens allowed the first three batters to get on base before recording a single out. At this point it seemed inevitable that the Red Sox would break the scoreless monotony and that came true very quickly as Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up RBI’s with a pair of sacrifice outs.

Game 2 (6-4 BOS): The Orioles got Manny Machado back on Tuesday but it was far from enough to propel them to victory. David Hess made his second start against the Red Sox and failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Hess has been a reliable piece of the rotations since making his major league debut in mid May, but Boston has given him a lot of trouble. In six starts Hess has given up fifteen earned runs and ten of them have come from the Red Sox lineup.

Miguel Castro entered the game after Hess and surrendered one more run to make it a 6-2 Boston lead by the end of the fifth.  The score would remain the same until the ninth inning when the O’s got two more runs. Mark Trumbo came through with a two RBI double, but the Orioles still found themselves down by two with just one out left.

Game 3 (4-0 BOS): In the series finale the Orioles turned to a new face to make a spot start. Andrew Cashner was originally scheduled to start but hit the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a lower back strain. This opened the door for Yefry Ramirez to make his MLB debut. The 24-year-old joined the Orioles organization in 2017 after being traded by the New York Yankees for international signing bonus slots.

Facing the Boston Red Sox in your first career start is far from ideal, but Ramirez seemed up to the task early on. The O’s starter took care of business in the first two innings but fell victim to Mookie Betts in the third when the Boston right fielder sent a solo home run to center field.

Ramirez was able to settle in and make it through the fourth but was removed after one out in the fifth after he started to run into a jam. It is likely that Buck Showalter kept Ramirez on a short leash in his first start, but the young pitcher had already thrown 97 pitches by the time he was pulled.

Mike Wright entered the game and proceeded to allow three runs before finishing the inning. The first two were credited to Ramirez since he put them on base before exiting the game.

Down 4-0 the Orioles were already at a disadvantage but the lead seemed even more insurmountable with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. The Red Sox ace has dominated the Orioles for most of his career with a 5-2 record and a 2.79 ERA against the Birds. On Wednesday Sale gave up just two hits and struck out nine in six innings of work. He exited the game in the seventh after putting two runners on and when one came around to score later in the inning, Sale was credited with a run.

That would end up being the only run of the afternoon for the Orioles as the Boston bullpen came in and shutdown the last three innings. The O’s had a chance to push a few more runs across in the ninth by getting two runners in scoring position with two outs. Joey Rickard came to the plate for the at bat but grounded out to third base to end the game.

Up next: The Orioles will finish this home stand with a weekend series against the Miami Marlins. This will be the only meeting between these two teams in 2018.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP