The endless tree of Los Angeles Dodgers' victories grew another branch in 2023. No, it wasn't the returns of Joe Kelly and Kiké Hernandez. It wasn't swapping out Justin Turner for JD Martinez. It wasn't showcasing their top prospects to better prepare for their future (while also contending for a World Series).
It was the return of former top prospect Yusniel Diaz to the organization. Remember him? Back in 2018, when he was a top-100 prospect in all of baseball, Diaz was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in the blockbuster Manny Machado deal alongside Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.
Kremer has been the only prospect of note from that deal, and he has a 4.53 ERA, 4.72 FIP and 1.35 WHIP in 63 games (62 starts) for the O's. As for the rest? Research 'em! It'll be fun for ya.
This past offseason, after just logging one game in the big leagues, the Orioles outrighted Diaz and he became a free agent. He remained a free agent for months until ... the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league contract in February.
Diaz has been at Double-A Tulsa ever since and he's currently hitting .267 with an .836 OPS, 41 runs scored, 16 doubles, 10 homers and 38 RBI in 70 games. It could very well be a career year for the 26-year-old.
Former centerpiece of Dodgers-Orioles Manny Machado trade is dominating ... for LA
Diaz won't be found on any top prospect lists in 2023, but how fitting is it that the Dodgers parted with Diaz for Machado, then let Machado walk to the Padres, won a World Series two years later, have mostly punked Machado and the Padres ever since 2019, played zero part in the Orioles' resurgence with this trade that probably should've been a big reason for it, and then got one of the players back with enough time in his development to potentially be "something" down the road.
The outfielder has been on fire for the Tulsa Drillers while logging defensive reps in left field and right field. At this rate, a boost to Triple-A Oklahoma City before the end of the year (and probably right around when rosters expand) isn't out of the question.
Diaz's future is far from set in stone and is very much up in the air, but it's both comforting and and empowering for the Dodgers to see him performing like this after almost four full years away from the organization.
Just give us a GIF of Andrew Friedman winking and we're all set.