Trading Machado makes some sense - but the Orioles can't afford to screw up this one - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Trading Machado makes some sense — but the Orioles can’t afford to screw up this one

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Heading into this year’s winter meetings — really, heading into Tuesday — I would have said there was almost no shot that the Orioles trade their 25-year-old star third baseman Manny Machado.

Scrap that.

Based on the developments Tuesday, and specifically the tone and measured words of team executive vice president Dan Duquette, I now think it is more likely than not that the Orioles deal Machado before Opening Day.

What changed?

“Well, I think we’ve got a better gauge about the market for some of our players,” Duquette said. “There seems to be significant interest. So, we just have a better idea of what the market is.”

Perhaps all of this should be tempered. It’s possible a Machado deal doesn’t happen. These kinds of transactions are always tricky, especially with a 400-pronged organizational hierarchy like the Orioles have and, especially, with an owner who in the past has felt it is disingenuous to the fan base to rebuild.

But the door has been cracked open and Duquette nudged it further with his cryptic but telling comments to the Baltimore media gathered here Tuesday evening.

“There is a lot of interest in Manny and a couple of clubs requested a meeting, so we met with a couple of clubs on that issue. We’re gonna continue to explore the market and see where it takes us,” Duquette said. “I think when you make a deal, you’ve got to look at how that strengthens your club. And the important thing when you make a deal is knowing what you are going to give up and what you’re going to get back.”

What the Orioles get back is key here, obviously. A Machado trade has the potential to positively or negatively affect the organization for years.

Machado’s the top player on a last-place team. He’s also a free agent at season’s end, is expected to land a contract in the $300 million range, which is too rich for the Orioles.

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At least that’s the perception.

Duquette admitted Tuesday that he has not had any recent extension talks with Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano. I give Duquette extra credit for his honesty. But he gets a big, fat “incomplete” for the overall assignment.

“I’ve talked to Machado’s agent periodically,” Duquette said. “We have not explored a long-term agreement with Manny since we tried a couple of years ago.”

There was a follow-up question to that statement:

Why?

“That’s obviously a big decision for the Orioles organization and that’s one that, it’s still under consideration,” Duquette said.

OK, so it officially needs to be known whether Machado’s price can be met before the Orioles trade him. Maybe it’s a foregone conclusion that Machado is taking the millions elsewhere. But that has to be sufficiently relayed before Duquette goes to Step Two.

Step Two won’t be as simple for the Orioles. Nothing is ever easy for this club. But the Orioles need to get the best trade proposal from each suitor and make sure every decision-maker in the organization, along with any scouts the Orioles still employ, are on the same page – that means Duquette, manager Buck Showalter, VP Brady Anderson, owner Peter G. Angelos, and his sons, Lou and John — before the other team thinks there is an agreement.

Proposals aren’t ratified deals. That shouldn’t be forgotten. But having it come out later that someone in the Orioles’ organization shot down a deal that another club thought was set is always embarrassing.

Yet, that’s not the thing the Orioles must get right here. They need to make sure they land legitimate prospects or major leaguers for Machado, preferably high-end pitching prospects.

They get one bite at this apple, and Duquette and company need to get it right.

That’s a concern of course. Really, this is all fraught with danger. Duquette said the clubs he talked to Tuesday about Machado did not ask for a window to negotiate a long-term deal. He wasn’t crystal clear on whether he would allow that.

“That’s interesting. They have a provision where you can allow a period of time for a potential trade to work out a new contractual agreement. Most trades are made and the buyer will take the contract. In some cases, they allow the new team to try to work out a deal with the player,” Duquette said. “My experience with those is they don’t generally work out that well, but there’s a window that allows that in the basic agreement.”

Yeah, more wrinkles aren’t needed here.

Duquette was also asked whether he was concerned about the message he thought this would be sending to the fan base.

“Yeah, well, I don’t know that we need to speculate about that. Manny’s an Oriole. I really don’t think you need to speculate about something like that,” he said. “If something happens, and we have a trade, of course, we’re gonna address the issues. I’ve said all along, this is an important year for the Orioles in a lot of different areas.”

Well, he’s got that right. His contract is up after the 2018 season. So is Showalter’s, who said Tuesday he’d like to return in 2019 as manager.

Closer Zach Britton, set-up man Brad Brach and center fielder Adam Jones can be free agents next winter, too. And, if Duquette is dealing Machado, it sure makes sense for him to trade at least Britton, who will make in the $13 million range through arbitration in 2018.

“We have a number of players in the last year of their deal. Britton was one of the best pitchers in the league in (2016), didn’t have as great of a year in ‘17 as he did in ‘16 because he was stalled by some injuries, starting in the spring,” Duquette said. “But he is one of the elite relievers. I mean, he’s a left-handed power reliever, very uniquely skilled player. So, there should be a lot of interest in him.”

There should be plenty of interest in most of the Orioles’ pending free agents. Machado and Britton, though, lead the way. Separate deals for those two might be able to get the Orioles to compete again, sooner rather than later.

Duquette, on Tuesday anyway, was clinging to the idea that trades can be made and the team can still be a factor in 2018. He still was trumpeting the Orioles as playing for 2018, but it wasn’t nearly convincing as it had been in the past few months.

Changes seem to be coming to these Orioles.

In theory, that sounds sensible.

In practicality, so much is at stake and making the right choices will be the ultimate test of Duquette’s (and Showalter’s and Anderson’s) Orioles’ tenure.

They simply can’t afford to screw up this one.

“Our challenge is significant. No doubt about that. But if we can add the right pitching and make the right (moves) and we can get our team to gel, we can still compete,” Duquette said. “The pennant’s not won in December, the playoff spots aren’t defined either in December.

“Yeah, we have a lot of work to do, right? The rich got richer. Some of the teams in our division have gotten better. We haven’t completed our offseason work, but we are in process.”

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Bancells Moustache

    December 12, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Sell him. You can send Machado packing nd get some pieces in return or you can watch him sign with New York next winter and get a draft pick. Easy decision. And whoever ponies up the money next winter will regret it.

    It would just make me feel alot better knowing a decision of this magnitude was being made by someone who will actually be an Orioles employee in 2019.

  2. PA Bird Lover

    December 12, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    If DD means dumpster diving to sign a rotation, to me that means MM goes before ST. If they won’t spring the money for the best pitchers available now, then it’s a safe bet $300 mil isn’t there for MM either.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 13, 2017 at 12:16 am

      If he goes it would be before spring training. And this much hype you almost have to do it now.

  3. Osfan73

    December 12, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Wow! Where to start. Angelos must be on vacation for this development to even start growing roots LOL.
    Disingenuous to the fanbase to rebuild? I think that might be selling us short a bit. Most of us I believe know that rebuilding is a necessary evil. Not always pretty but it can and does lead to better competitive teams. Snakes shed their skin, moths turn into butterflies etc etc, difficult to go through but a team can alot of times be better for the effort on the other end. Additionally IMO this doesn’t sound like a total rebuild anyway. It’s a dealing of selective pieces to acquire whats badly needed AND still be able to compete this coming season. DD said as much above. A total rebuild would probably have DD sounding as if he was conceeding the upcoming season and I just don’t sense that from what he says. There’s enough left for a good core team. Honestly to me this sounds similar to what the Yankees did a couple years ago at the trade deadline, part with a few players for the right ones in return. And now look at them.
    In the end though I strongly agree that the Os cannot afford to whiff on this potential oppurtunity.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 13, 2017 at 12:17 am

      Partial rebuild is the best you are probably gonna get. But that’s not a bad thing always.

      • Dpsmith22

        December 13, 2017 at 9:38 am

        I HONESTLY believe a trade of Manny and Britton, done correctly, will make the O’s not only better in the future, but in 18 as well.

        The question is can Duquette do this?

  4. Ijlnva

    December 12, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Trade Machado for pitching + save $17M. Trade Britton for pitching + save $13M. Take the $30 M and sign Moustakis to $18 APY and lock up Schoop with the savings. We get our pitching, a more competitive player to build around (Moustakis) and a rising star in Schoop. Let’s go DD.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 13, 2017 at 12:18 am

      I’m not sure it will work that way. But solid ideas.

  5. Churchton

    December 13, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Yes sure I trust Duquette’s decision. Hey didn’t he also have a say in that horrid contract for the overpaid strikeout king? Davis is a classic example that the O’s upper management, especially Duquette suck. Isn’t Duquette working for the blue jays(wishful thinking) Nothing will be right as last by as Duquette is here and Anderson Here we are going to lose an icon. A player that is as good or better than brooks or cal. Didn’t angelos say he was going to use the money generated by MASN to fuel the O’s to a pennant and they are not going to pay manny yet give Davis 140 mil. What a joke

  6. toonman

    December 13, 2017 at 2:42 am

    The Orioles should shop Machado. This window is pretty much closed, and for the organization’s future health, they need to make this move while they still can, particularly since it seems clear an extension isn’t happening.

    The thing is, what team is going to fork over a mega-package for Machado without an extension? It seems fairly unlikely that Machado is going to sign an extension unless he gets offered basically market rate, and even then, he may just want to test the market anyways. The problem is that, the history of these trades tends to be that if you have one prospect hit, it’s a good enough trade. You hope for more, but will a Machado trade, plus maybe a Brach/Britton trade net enough that, combined with the farm, one can start to envision the pieces for the Orioles to be competitive in 2019? It doesn’t seem likely – it seems like wishful thinking. Of course, there are some trades where the prospects all do fairly well – the Bartolo Colon trade to Montreal back in the day comes to mind (Cliff Lee/Brandon Phillips/Grady Sizemore).

    It’ll never happen, but the Orioles really should take the bitter pill and just fully rebuild. A Kevin Gausman with 2 years of control left, coming off a superb 2nd half of the year and likely still on an upswing could likely net a monster return in this market where Alex Cobb is probably the 2nd or 3rd most intriguing FA SP. Is Gausman going to be a part of the next Orioles core? Timeline and Orioles history of avoiding long term SP deals suggest otherwise.

    Mychal Givens has multiple years of control left and 2 productive seasons in his belt. The Ken Giles trade isn’t a perfect comparison (since Giles had closed already), but the Phillies netted a monster return for him. Granted, the four arms haven’t really panned out, but you need quantity of prospects. Ideally, with Showalter, you should be able to find and develop pen arms.

    Finally, if Schoop won’t sign long term … one would think that a young, power bat with multiple years of control who is decent at 2nd could net a huge return … the type of return that could perhaps find you a foundational piece if your scouts are on the ball.

    I mean, if you start down the road of rebuilding, but only go at it half-hearted, you are hoping to get “lucky” again and piece together a good run. Not impossible, but if the Orioles move all their prime intriguing assets now … they might increase the probability that they could be better sooner, than later, when combining those guys with current farm assets, plus the top picks they’ll likely net (assuming they hit on them).

    Do I think they’ll go this route? Nah, but they should.

  7. Marsh42

    December 13, 2017 at 7:25 am

    This has to happen! Maybe I am naive and I trust Dan to point that out if I am, but this could be a monumental building block for the O’s. If done right, moving Manny and Britton could supply the farm and keep us competitive. We have money to spend on players, just maybe not FA pitching. IF, you would get a package of maybe Wacha, (Jack) Flaherty, and Alcantara from the Cardinals for Manny and then Maybe Ryu and Alvarez from the Dodgers for Britton (Both Hypothetical but possible IMO). You have pitching for today and tomorrow and you can spend on position players. It is time we leverage our assets to better position this club for the future. It is undoubtedly sad to see Manny go but, that is the nature of the beast.

    • Dpsmith22

      December 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      IF done correctly, probably not those players, but yes, he could set us up for the future and now.

      Having faith in him, lol, well that’s a whole other story. Faith, like respect, is earned.

  8. bigdaddydk

    December 13, 2017 at 8:14 am

    This is a time I’ve been dreading for a few years now, but somehow when the talk about mega contracts for Machado and Harper started a couple of years ago I knew it would arrive. The responsible thing at this point, assuming that Manny leaving is a foregone conclusion, is to get more than a draft pick for him. This team needs an injection of fresh talent at multiple positions (pitching being the obvious one) and they should expect a king’s ransom for Manny. He’s a premier talent in the game and the O’s need just compensation for developing him. My issue is that I don’t trust the front office to manage this kind of trade. I have visions of a herd of A-ball pitchers, a utility infielder, and a journeyman RF joining our ranks instead of legitimate reloading pieces. The thought that DD is in the final year of his contract when this is all going down doesn’t provide much comfort.

    In the end, I really hope, assuming Manny is out of Baltimore, that he heads to the NL, but at the very least I hope he’s not in the AL East. That would be adding insult to injury to have to face him 19 times per year.

    • Djowen

      December 13, 2017 at 9:19 am

      A bad trade would not look good to a potential employer in 2019. DD needs the trade to be good for the O’s to enhance his bargaining position when he is a free agent.

      • bigdaddydk

        December 13, 2017 at 9:27 am

        Generally speaking, I agree with you. Being as he was not employed for so long, I wonder how much would be the demand for him. My concern revolves more around the fact that making the trade now won’t yield real results until after he’s gone if it’s largely in prospects. The O’s are likely going to finish below .500 which represents a significant decline since 2012 overall. His ability to pull of the big trade while in Baltimore has been lacking, although I concede that ownership could have a lot to do with that. Still, the reluctance of the franchise to actually do a rebuild doesn’t give me much confidence, and I do believe that DD has a responsibility to sell the ownership on that if it appears that that is what’s needed.

        • Dpsmith22

          December 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm

          -Rotation under Duquette almost 5.
          -Team 4 games over .500 last 3 seasons. Less than .500 last season and a half.
          -Underachieving core based on roster additions.
          -3 prospects in 6 years have made the majors

          Not sure Dan wants me as his agent. Not a very glowing review.

          Dan would be good for a LOW budget franchise where dumpster diving and waiver wire pickups are the only way they can be competitive. These types of players, when added to a great core, equal .500 baseball. Thanks Dan, now just go away.

    • Dpsmith22

      December 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      I agree that the package will not be what we think it should be. A good prospect and an average one. The one I heard Wacha and Flaherty would be great, but I don’t believe it.

  9. Orial

    December 13, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Everything you said about Duquette has Angelos’ hands all over it. Kinda like whispering your thoughts to someone because you don’t want your boss to hear. He can’t convey any solid info because it’s all pertaining to Peter. I’m dismayed and in disbelief that they haven’t discussed Manny’s impending free agency over the past 2 years. What’s ironic and disgusting is that the Yankees have the best prospects and actually might be willing to give them up knowing that they’re probably the frontrunners to sign Manny. Two questions Dan–do you think the recent Stanton trade has made these Manny trade rumors escalate(knowing the O’s are falling farther behind) and why isn’t Harper’s free agency causing any aingst in DC?

    • Dan Connolly

      December 13, 2017 at 11:25 pm

      I think the further a rival improves, the more weaknesses shine. So yeah, to an extent. As for no angst in DC. I think there is. But there’s also a much better chance he is re-signed compared to Machado.

  10. akerfan2

    December 13, 2017 at 8:47 am

    i dont get the dont screw it up angle? get the best prospects you can, you know youre not getting to the playoffs this year. theres nothing to screw up, and we know we wont compete without machado, so its time to deal britton and brach as well

    • Dpsmith22

      December 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      There is EVERYTHING to screw up. IF the right players aren’t acquired, this organization will be set back another 3-4 years.

  11. Bkr555

    December 13, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Here it is…again. Go with starters 1) Gausman, 2) Bundy, 3) Cobb, 4) Britton, 5) Givens 6) Castro. Use the money you save to pay Manny the 300 million. You say Britton and Givens can’t be converted? This is the same logic that gave up on Arrieta.

  12. GSISDANNO

    December 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

    This may sound like heresy but I think it’s time to trade Machado. I don’t think he wants to be here and why would we want him if that’s the case. Machado has an enormous amount of talent but let’s be honest. He hasn’t improved all that much in the last 2-3 years.
    If you remove the month of August from his stats this season, he had his worst year in the majors.
    He is still a terrible base runner and I think his defense has slipped. For every spectacular play he makes, it seems like he screws up some easy plays.
    He is still very immature and I don’t see him making progress there.
    I will admit he is a very good hitter in the clutch.
    I think the thing that bothered me most is that it looked like he lost interest after hitting the game winning homer against the Yankees in early September.
    He had a miserable September.
    Most of all, I think the Orioles are being held hostage by him. If his agent won’t negotiate, it should send a clear message.
    Let’s see what we can get.

    • Orial

      December 13, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Gsisdanno that is a gutsy AND true analysis of Manny. Take last August away and he was quite abysmal. Dare I say over rated?

      • Dpsmith22

        December 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        IMO if Manny would grow up and stop swinging long (trying to hit a homer) all the time, he could be an all-time great. If he went back to hitting the ball the other way etc, he could go .330-28-100 all day long.

        He won’t do that, he is too arrogant. That being said, i still enjoy watching him play.

  13. Osfan73

    December 13, 2017 at 9:34 am

    NY sent Headley to San Diego opening up 3rd base. Could this set the stage for Dempsey/McGregor the sequel?????

  14. Dpsmith22

    December 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

    The fact that here it is mid-december and now we are trading Manny, that proves that there is no plan.

  15. TxBirdFan

    December 13, 2017 at 10:31 am

    For those of us who like to live in the past, there was a time the O’s went to 4 WS in 6 years even tho we had a HOF 3rd baseman who only hit .267 for his career, a first baseman who hit for less but popped some HRs from time to time, and an OF who hit .290 and also hit HRs. But we had GREAT pitching (and defense) that carried us.

    If we unload MM for good up and coming pitching, we’ll be re-living the Oriole Way. Shoot, we could give intentional walks to Judge and Stanton to prevent them from hurting us, and reduce game time to boot!

    Never thought I’d say this, but call me nostalgic – I’m all in on this strategy.

  16. bobbymac824

    December 13, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Great, well-written article DC and great comments everyone! Thanks!

    Without Davis rebounding and if Trumbo is not moved, we are toast. AJ will be unhappy and without a rotation there is no way to compete. The clubhouse will be toxic if Buck not extended. I see no happy endings here so we must move Manny and Zach.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 13, 2017 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks. And sorry my comments were limited here. Really long few days at the meetings.

  17. Churchton

    December 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Sad thing is the front office is a screw up. Duquette and Anderson have to be the worst in baseball

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