Two trades in two hours for Baltimore, and they didn’t even need to part with a major prospect to complete them. Less than ninety minutes after swinging a deal for White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza, the Orioles announced that they had agreed to a trade that will send Triple-A infielders Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jemile Weeks to Boston for infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar.
This makes for a rather short Oriole tenure for both De Jesus and Weeks, each of whom was acquired by Baltimore within the last nine months.
Weeks, 27, was brought over as the center-piece in the offseason trade that sent closer Jim Johnson to Oakland. Was considered the Athletics second baseman of the future, Weeks entered the 2011 season as the team’s #5 prospect, per Baseball America, and proceeded to hit .303/.340/.421 with 22 stolen bases and eight triples in his rookie season, though he did not garner any AL ROY votes. But that was the end of Weeks’ success. In 2012, he hit just .221 with no power (two home runs, .304 SLG) while, according to Fangraphs, costing his team 6.1 runs with his glove-work at second and finishing as baseball’s least valuable second baseman (-0.6 WAR). He hasn’t held down a big league job since.
In 63 games for Norfolk, Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate, Weeks, the younger brother of Brewers second baseman and former ALl-Star Rickie Weeks, is hitting .280/.392/.391 this season, and is 3-13 with a triple over three major league contests.
De Jesus, 27, is quickly becoming baseball’s youngest journeyman. Two years ago, the Dodgers shipped the shortstop from LA to Boston in the blockbuster that put Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in blue uniforms. He lasted less than two months in the Red Sox farm system before they flipped him to the Pirates in the Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt deal. Pittsburgh kept him in their system for a year, where he hit a robust .319/.380/.457, but after the season he was granted free agency, where the Orioles scooped him up and are now sending him back to Boston. Though he has never been given much of an opportunity at the game’s highest level, De Jesus has never failed to perform in the minors, with a .298/.369/.395 career line.
Almanzar, the only player in this deal with no major league experience and at 23, the youngest, was having a strong season for Double-A Portland, hitting .280/.356/.422 with five home runs in 188 plate appearances. But he actually spent most of the year in the Orioles organization, having been taken from the Red Sox in last year’s rule five draft. The third baseman suffered an injury in Spring Training, though, and when he returned from the disabled in July, the Orioles returned him to the Red Sox. Clearly, though, they are still enamored with Almanzar, who received a 1.5 million dollar signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.
Johnson, the lone veteran in this trade, is no less of a rambler. Baltimore will be his sixth destination since 2011, and when he first takes the field in Orange and Black, he will have played for all five AL-East teams in just a two year span. Once a second baseman, but now largely playing first and third, the 32 year old veteran went just 4 for 25 with one extra base hit (a double) and no walks in 10 games for Boston. Johnson was in pinstripes before the July 31st trade deadline though, and hit .219/.304/.373 over 227 plate appearances in New York.