Zach Wilt: Next O’s playoff team will look markedly different from the last

Change is inevitable, but knowing that fact doesn’t make dealing with change any easier. Over the last week, Orioles fans have witnessed two cornerstone players get moved to different contenders, while prospects come to Baltimore in hopes of building the franchise’s next successful team. Manny Machado and Zach Britton contributed a lot to the success and turnaround of the club and played an integral part of the team’s run to the postseason in three of five years from 2012 to 2016.

On his way to the West Coast, Machado penned a heartfelt message to the organization that brought him up. Until recently, he had only ever known Baltimore and only ever played for Buck Showalter at the big league level. In an instant, all of that changed. Machado is one of the game’s biggest stars and for the last seven years, he exclusively wore black and orange.

Britton, too, was brought up with the Birds. He was drafted in the third round in 2006 by Baltimore, played in Rookie-level Bluefield, short-season Single-A Aberdeen, Single-A Delmarva, Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie, and Triple-A Norfolk before debuting with the Orioles in 2011. The starter converted to the bullpen in 2014 and became one of the game’s most dominant closers over the span of a few seasons. According to MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko, Britton stayed in Showalter’s office until 1 a.m. after the news broke that he was traded to the Yankees. The skipper asked Britton his favorite moments in Baltimore. “That choked up both of us,” Showalter said according to Kubatko.

The return received for Machado and Britton has been lauded by evaluators as both players are rentals for their new clubs. The Orioles received outfielder Yusniel Díaz, right-hander Dean Kremer, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Zach Pop and third baseman Breyvic Valera from the Dodgers for Machado. Right-hander Dillon Tate, left-hander Josh Rogers and right-hander Cody Carroll were sent from the Yankees for Britton. Díaz was the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. Tate ranked No. 9 in the Yankees system and Carroll ranked 15. Not a bad return for a pair of rentals.

The gutting of the Orioles roster will likely only continue. Rival clubs have expressed interest in Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Only time will tell if the Orioles are truly willing to part with those players. In my non-expert opinion, I think it will all depend on the offers they receive. If a team is willing to send some big names to Baltimore in return, I don’t think anyone will be off limits at this trade deadline.

One thing is for certain, the next Orioles team to make the postseason will look a lot different than the last. Only four of the nine players in the Orioles starting lineup for the 2016 AL wild card game are still on the roster (Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Schoop) and they just released their starter (Chris Tillman).

As a lifelong fan, I’m sad to see to the change take place in Baltimore. It’s painful seeing Machado and Britton in other uniforms and I can’t even imagine how it would be to see Jones playing for anyone other than Baltimore. Still, I’ve chosen to remain optimistic about this process. The Orioles’ return for Machado and Britton has been solid and I have enjoyed seeing them welcome back Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray in advisory roles. The next Orioles team to play in October will certainly look a lot different than their last, but I’m OK with that as long as I can root for a solid plan to get them back to October.

Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_wilt. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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