The Orioles traded Jonathan Schoop to Milwaukee Brewers. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun video)
NEW YORK — Second baseman Jonathan Schoop might’ve been the Orioles’ best international find in recent memory. Signed as a 16-year-old out of Curaçao to a nominal signing bonus, he became a budding superstar the club could have built their next competitive window around.
But Schoop’s tenure with the club ended abruptly Tuesday, as the 26-year-old fan favorite was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Jonathan Villar and two prospects without the club having made a play to keep him around.
The Orioles avoided the situation they faced this year with shortstop Manny Machado by dealing Schoop before his final season of club control. And once the team made it clear it was moving forward with a rebuild, it became clear that Schoop’s days with the Orioles were numbered – unless they moved to sign him to an extension.
It had been obvious for quite some time that the Orioles were going to bail on this season and trade away the veteran nucleus of the team, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the full magnitude of the long-anticipated rebuild hit home.
“They never talked with my agent that I know of,” Schoop said. “They never asked for an extension, never asked to talk, that I know of. … They know what they’re doing. They know what’s good for them. Maybe they have something differently planned. They told me they want a rebuild. The one thing I know is to go out there and play baseball. The business side, I know nothing about it, so they know more than me.
“I can’t explain it. I’ve got to thank the fans, the Orioles fans, and I’ve got to thank [manager] Buck [Showalter] for giving me the chance to be a big leaguer. I’ve got to thank all of the coaching staff, especially [third base coach] Bobby [Dickerson], who helped me through my career in the minor leagues coming up and making me the player I am right now.”
Schoop, named an All-Star and Most Valuable Oriole in 2017, said he wanted to remain with Baltimore, but he’s seen best friend (Machado) traded, as well as homegrown players Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman also dealt to supplement the farm system with prospects.
“Yes,” Schoop said when asked whether he wanted to stay, “because this is the team that gave me the chance. This is the team that signed me, since Curaçao, and gave me the chance to be a big leaguer. Know what I mean? But now I’m in Milwaukee, so I need to focus on them, focus on my new team. Go over there, give my all over there and win.”
After grinding through a difficult first half of this season, Schoop began to replace Machado as the team’s top offensive contributor. Since the All-Star break, when Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Schoop hit .349/.349/.860, homering in seven of nine games. Schoop hit .360 and posted a 1.056 OPS with nine homers over his past 23 games, raising his season batting average from .197 to .244.
“Watching him, especially the past month and seeing how he’s turned everything around, it definitely gives me some inspiration,” left fielder Trey Mancini said. “It’s tough to lose him. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with and a great presence in the clubhouse, and I like the way he plays the game.”
Around the horn
The Orioles called up right-handed reliever Cody Carroll before Tuesday’s game to fill the bullpen roster spot vacated by right-hander Brad Brach, who was traded to the Atlanta Braves after Sunday’s game. Carroll, who was acquired from the New York Yankees in the Zach Britton trade, made just two one-inning relief appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. …. The team also recalled infielder Breyvic Valera before Tuesday’s game to fill Schoop’s roster spot but he hadn’t yet arrived before the game. Valera was one of five players acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade. …. Infielder Jonathan Villar, acquired in the Schoop trade, is expected to join the Orioles on Thursday in Texas, Showalter said. Villar went on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb on July 15 and was completing a minor league rehabilitation assignment at the time of the trade.