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Teams have used over 1,200 players already this year

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Joe Sherman of the New York Post tweeted out an interesting fact a little while ago: as of last night, major league teams have, collectively, exceeded 1,200 players used this season.

Sherman goes on to note just how out-of-whack that is compared to the rest of baseball history. Before 1999, he says, the 1,200 mark had never been reached. Which, fine, since before 1998 there were fewer teams. But even in the 30-team era, the numbers we’re seeing are incredible. They have risen each and every year since 2012 and last year a new record was set. The record: 1,358. We’re, quite obviously, going to shatter that record this year.

The culprit here is teams shuttling players on and off rosters, on and off the disabled list and up and down from the minor leagues at rates never before seen. Each of these developments were likely born of efficiency and competitive considerations. Fresh arms and legs are better than tired arms and legs and it’s better to deal with injuries proactively than it is to let hurt guys linger on a roster.

Yet it’s hard to see how, whatever the motivation for this, it’s not a bad thing for the fan experience and thus the game.

While a lot of fans will own up to “rooting for laundry” (i.e. supporting a team no matter who is playing for it) fans unquestionably have a far greater attachment to a team which has players they know and recognize. Players whose development they can track and whose performance they can follow over time. With a much larger portion of the roster turning over constantly, the players increasingly become unknown quantities for whom feelings run comparatively shallow. That diminishes the fan experience, I suspect, and over time diminishes a fan’s loyalty and enthusiasm for a team. Many people have cited this as a problem of free agency, but at least that only impacts teams, at most, on an annual basis, involving a couple of guys. This is an all-year, many times a year phenomenon.

This is like any number of other problems facing baseball. With front offices increasingly looking for smaller and smaller edges and inefficiencies to exploit, any number of moves and strategies that may not have been employed a few years ago are being employed now, often with unexpected consequences. A GM wants pitching to get better, so he gets flamethrowers over pitch-to-contact guys and he wants hitting to get better so he beefs up on power. Oops, there goes all of the balls in play! Likewise, a GM wants to optimize the 25-man roster and all of its rules in maximal fashion and, oops, there goes any semblance of roster continuity.

There are no easy answers to this stuff and I won’t suggest I have any. But these are problems Major League Baseball has to acknowledge and address if it does not want to alienate fans.

Dodgers acquire Manny Machado from Orioles for five minor leaguers

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The Orioles and Dodgers finally completed the trade involving Manny Machado, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Orioles will receive five prospects from the Dodgers: Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon, and Breyvic Valera.

Machado, 26, is in the final year of his contract, so this is currently a rental for the first-place Dodgers. Machado ended the first half batting .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs, 65 RBI, 48 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 413 plate appearances. In Los Angeles, he will handle shortstop, allowing Chris Taylor to move over to second base.

MLB Pipeline rated Diaz as the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect and No. 84 across baseball. Kremer was No. 27 in the Dodgers’ system and Bannon was No. 28.

Diaz, 21, is considered the centerpiece of the trade. The outfielder hit .314/.428/.477 with 20 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 36 runs scored in 264 plate appearances at Double-A Tulsa this season.

Kremer, 22, was selected by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2016 draft. He spent most of his season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga before earning a promotion to Tulsa earlier this month. Overall, in 17 starts, the right-hander posted a 3.03 ERA with a 125/29 K/BB ratio in 86 innings.

Pop, 21, was selected by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. He has spent his season between Rancho Cucamonga and Single-A Great Lakes. Overall, he compiled a 1.04 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 13 walks in 43 1/3 innings of relief.

Bannon, 22, was selected by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2017 draft. With Rancho Cucamonga this season, the infielder batted .296/.402/.559 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI in 403 PA.

Valera, 26, has appeared in 20 games at the major league level for the Dodgers this season, batting a meager .172 with a .445 OPS in 34 PA. Valera has versatility, having played second base, third base, and corner outfield this year while also having experience in center field, shortstop, and first base.