Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado and the Angelos' consensus factor; Manny dominoes; market picking up throughout the game - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado and the Angelos’ consensus factor; Manny dominoes; market picking up throughout the game

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The sense around the Orioles organization is that a Manny Machado trade will get done. And that’s because the powers-that-be are all in agreement that the team will not be able to re-sign Machado to a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.

And so, as much as the team would like to have Machado around this upcoming year, dealing him now will help the Orioles fill at least one of their current openings in the rotation, which should allow them to avoid acquiring an additional fringe starter from a drained free-agent pool.

The most important part of the above statement, in my opinion, is that the powers-that-be are in agreement. Gaining consensus is not a strength of the Orioles, and that has been one of the things that has hampered them in the past.

I’ve long written that I don’t think owner Peter Angelos is a meddler – at least not in the years I’ve covered him or to the extent that he is painted. He is an owner and has veto power, like many owners. The difference, however, is he solicits opinions from so many places — as attorneys often do — and that vetting can significantly slow the decision-making process in the rapid-fire world of baseball.

That’s key here because I’ve been told the organization believes Angelos could give his approval for a Machado deal to anywhere – including the rival New York Yankees – but a lot depends on who delivers those recommendations and whether everyone is on the same page. If one Angelos’ trusted confidant — and there are several – thinks it’s a bad idea, then it’s less likely to happen.

Multiple sources told me that’s what killed the Zach Britton-to-Houston deal in July. Angelos didn’t have a firm opinion on it and it looked like it would happen. But at least one of his top advisers balked at the overall package because it didn’t contain enough top-shelf and/or healthy prospects. That opinion was relayed, and, ultimately, the deal was shot down.

So, that could be a cautionary tale for any Machado suitors. They should know consensus likely must be reached. And that’s always tricky in Baltimore.

But dealing Machado seems to be a unified front now, so that part of the hurdle is cleared. And there’s no exact trade deadline, so that likely will help too, since expedience is not the Orioles’ calling card. In other words, I won’t be surprised if this thing gets dragged out, but eventually happens.

Machado first, everything else second

In talking to various agents and teams at the winter meetings, it seems like the Orioles and executive vice president Dan Duquette were more focused on figuring out whether trading Machado was viable than solidifying other acquisitions.

It makes sense, of course. The assumption is that if Machado is traded the Orioles will be able to fill various holes within the organization and, potentially, on the 25-man roster. So, it would be prudent to know what they have before signing pitchers or trading for an outfielder.

One agent said that he was told the Orioles had interest in his client, but they weren’t ready to take the next step. And the agent assumed that’s because of the Machado situation.

Being hyper-focused on Machado may mean that the Orioles miss out on a starting pitcher that they want, of course.

Yet one of the primary reasons they are mulling offers for Machado is because they weren’t particularly enamored with what’s left in the starting pitching market that they could afford.

What remains in their price range has warts, as most free-agent pitching does, and the Orioles are apparently OK with gambling that at least one rotation upgrade will still be around when the Machado dust settles.

The Orioles have interest in a bunch of starting pitchers including Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman. From what I gathered, though, there was no full press on any of those by the Orioles in Orlando, just the typical, “we like ‘em at the right price” overtures.

A slow market overall – but that should change

Maybe it was because of the Ohtani Sweepstakes or the Stanton Debacle, but the free-agent market wasn’t particularly robust at the winter meetings.

That is changing, and I think you can expect a lot more player movement in the next seven days. The goal, for most players, is to know where they’ll be by Christmas. It doesn’t always happen that way, but this typically is a big upcoming week for signings and trades.

I wouldn’t be surprised if several markets open. The left-handed starting pitching dominoes, for instance, may start to fall now that CC Sabathia reportedly signed a one-year, $10 million deal.

It’s not that teams were waiting for Sabathia; it was expected he would stay in New York. But now there’s one less option available, and an idea of what the finances may be for others.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. bigdaddydk

    December 18, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Dan, based on the number of trades that have happened relative to FA signings, do you get a sense that there may be some resistance in MLB to continuing to escalate contracts? I just wonder because I see teams like the Dodgers jettisoning payroll. Obviously they want to be under the luxury tax, but the FA market is not a free for all as it has been before. Bona fide starters like Darvish are not creating a feeding frenzy, so I wonder if we’re starting to see some resistance and if FA values could start to stabilize a bit. They cannot continue to escalate in any way that we could view as economically sustainable. There’s only a handful of revenue streams teams can use to pay those salaries — gate receipts and concessions, merchandise, and TV contracts are the most obvious, and I think most lucrative. We’re already seeing a shift in how advertising is done, and TV isn’t as powerful as it used to be. I wonder how much the networks will continue to pay escalating contracts for broadcast rights, which would sting a lot of teams if that dropped off. Tickets aren’t getting any cheaper, and it’s driven me to minor league games more in recent years. And I don’t even want to talk about the merchandise prices. Instead of jerseys, I stick to hats now. Eventually it’ll be tie and lapel pins at the current rate.

    • Djowen

      December 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Most of the FA’s are Boras clients. His clients typically sign late. He gets what he wants most of the time by waiting and going straight to the owners (see Davis contract). I saw a report that each team is getting 50 million for something soon. As long as MLB rates baseball’s health in terms of dollars, prices will not come down.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Big Daddy: I agree. Free agency, frankly, has always been a terrible way to build a franchise because you are paying people for what they did in the past. And paying them well for the future as they get older and, in most cases, decline. So I think we will continue to see a bit of a change. And some players will be hurt by that. But there are always a couple teams per year that go for it and overspend. And that carries on to the next year.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:35 am

      DJ: obviously most aren’t Boras clients. But there are a bunch: Arrieta, Martinez, Hosmer, Moustakas. But there are good ones that aren’t and haven’t signed — Darvish, Cain, Cobb, Lynn, et cetera. But I get your point.

  2. Orial

    December 18, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Dan sounds that what you described may not be owner meddling but severe ADD on the organization’s part. The more decisions they’ve got to make the more confused they get. So I guess we don’t know if Manny will be traded to the Yankees or not. Trading Manny for rotation starters is a little confusing. Are they to get young arms or rotation ready arms? Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him in opening day lineup.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:52 am

      The absolute priority is to get arms. Specifically MLB ready arms with years of control and/or high-ceiling arms with major upside in the minors. The hope is a combo.

  3. letsgolos

    December 18, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I think it’s going to be hard to find a match, even though I am 100% on board with trading him… Here is the return that the O’s need:

    A) 1 low level minors SP, with a high-ceiling (Ace or SP2 potential), but a couple years away
    [this would basically be a replacement for the 1st round compensation pick the O’s are giving up by not keeping Manny for the whole season and then losing him after a declined Qualifying Offer);
    PLUS
    B) 1 MLB-ready solid SP (an SP3) with, hopefully, still 3-4 years of control via contract renewal or arbitration.
    [this makes up for not having an MVP-caliber Manny Machado for 1 season]

    This seems like a pretty fair return. The problem is, Manny isn’t going to re-sign with anybody before hitting FA. This isn’t necessarily problematic for the acquiring team in regards to Asset A above because if they make the move before the season, then THEY will get to offer Manny the QO and walk away with at least the 1st round compensation pick to replace it. Where it becomes problematic is Asset B. The O’s shouldn’t do the deal for anything less, but it’s going to be hard for a team to justify giving up an MLB SP, with 4 or maybe even more years of team control on a rookie contract. Even with as good as Manny is.

    I’m curious to see how this ends. DD is in a tough spot.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

      I’m with you. Think you nailed it.

      • letsgolos

        December 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

        I looked around at what some of the teams who have been rumored to be interested have to offer…

        I feel like if Arizona is seriously interested, the O’s should ask for Jon Duplantier and Anthony Banda. Banda could be a LHP in the SP4 spot and Duplantier can be a young arm off the 40-man for a year or two in the mid minors. They will probably balk at Duplantier though. I don’t really have any other ideas from other teams.

  4. Dpsmith22

    December 18, 2017 at 9:58 am

    What is comical to me is another show of reactive management. Can anyone tell me the O’s brass didn’t think a Manny deal could come up until a few weeks ago? Are they using post-it notes in the warehouse? I mean really. Trading Manny this off-season, should have been on the table since the beginning and here is why:
    1) Reactive management forces us to need 3 starters
    2) Lack of quality FA starting pitching
    3) Lack of trade chips, that we can spare (Nice drafting Duquette, its only been 6 years)
    4) Ownership not waiting to spend on FA starters, as a rule.

    These facts SCREAM that you will need to trade a valuable piece to get what you need.

    The O’s could have added Stanton AND Ozuna and without starters, wouldn’t change the final result. Pitching, Pitching, Pitching.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:55 am

      I’m with you. I think the one thing they were counting on was to land a couple mid-tier starters in free agency — specifically Mikolas/Chatwood/Fiers — and when they went off the board quickly what was left is what you described. And they had to face the hard facts finally.

      • Dpsmith22

        December 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

        Thanks Dan.

        What’s funny to me is that Mikolas is a big risk, Fiers isn’t very good and might give up 40 homers in 30 starts, and although I wanted Chatwood, not for that money. None of those pitchers, slated as the #3, make us a contender. Considering there were few #3 types to begin with, trading Manny was almost a must. Not to even mention the financial crippling his contract would do to this organization.

  5. karks

    December 18, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I respect that Mr. Angelos wants to get a consensus. And I never thought he was some sort of terrible owner. But it would be nice if they perhaps streamlined their approach so that decisions can be made more quickly. I expect that trading someone like Machado will take some time to deal with. But it seems like even the smaller moves become so much more painful than necessary. A franchise that can’t move at a decent pace can get left behind.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Let me say this: I know I am biased. But all of these comments are ridiculously well-conceived and reasoned. I run from Internet comments usually. But the people that gather here are just so damn reasonable — whether I agree or not — that it makes me all warm and fuzzy. And gives me solace when I read the junk that is posted on Facebook. So thank all of you. And, yes, Karks. That’s the biggest danger with this club. And has been imo.

      • karks

        December 18, 2017 at 12:08 pm

        Haha, we know you won’t tolerate any less!

  6. Wade Warren

    December 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Orioles need to sign Moustakes right now then trade Manny

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Not gonna happen Wade. He’s gonna get the moon.

      • Dpsmith22

        December 18, 2017 at 11:17 am

        and is another swing n’ miss guy who is scared of ball 4….Pass.

  7. Osfan73

    December 18, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Hopefully Santa brings a good pitcher or two and NOT from the island of misfit arms.
    No really, it is what it is…..really really need pitching and we’ll just have to hope DD finds the right deal/players. And if that involves someone within the division so be it. Am eager to see how this all turns out.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 18, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Yessir.

    • Dpsmith22

      December 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Sadly we are seeing history repeat itself in many ways.

      -The waiting game. It appears that we will be waiting until the end to grab a starter. That “strategy is why starters ERA under Duquette is almost 5. We know it doesn’t work. Those pitchers that are left are NOT contender type additions, when you only have 2 starters.
      -It appears we will have AT LEAST 1 of Ynoa, Asher, Rule 5 guy Nestor Cortes, will be in the rotation. Dare I say Miley? Tillman? Gonzo?
      -The OF appears to have either Trumbo or Hays in it. Either of which are mistakes in my opinion. Hays, although a great prospect, needs more seasoning.

      We are again trying to patch a rotation together in a division where MOST #3’s get hammered.

      Unless something changes, this is a LAST place team again and holding onto our tradeable players, when not serious about acquiring starters, is how the long losing streak starts.

  8. PA Bird Lover

    December 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve been an O’s fan since 1954. I was 10 when the Browns changed their name. The O’s have turned into baseball’s #1 procrastinating front office, at least since PA has held the reins. I suppose that may be good at times, but this year especially is far different. With only two starters signed from last years abortion, good sense tells me the last of the crumbs will not come close to keeping paying fans in their seats! My eldest daughter has for years said the Birds always get the crumbs. Isn’t that the truth? By the time ST arrives, any satisfactory starting pitching will still be absent. The O’s will probably have signed Tillman and the other two spots will be labeled TBD. That is a result of procrastination!

  9. Dpsmith22

    December 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Sadly, even though the O’s are poorly run and fans are totally mis-lead, there will be thousands of people at FanFest. That’s the sad part, we are paying them to be this incompetent.

  10. OrioleMaze

    December 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Dan, first time poster, long time reader.
    I’ve been an Oriole fan for over 50 years so please excuse what someone may perceive as a crazy take on the ‘trade Manny’ subject.
    The one thing I really liked about this club last year was how everyone seemed to enjoy playing with each other. I think it’s a rare thing nowadays. Kudo’s to Buck for having a great clubhouse.
    Can you tell me whether we’ve made an attempt at signing Manny?
    Here’s a crazy idea, make an offer.
    Here’s a crazier idea, make early Adam Jones type offers to Schoop, Brach, Bundy, Gausman and even Adam Jones again.
    Keep the core and fix the starting pitching with rule 5 and the farm.
    Manny plays every day and is a rare talent.
    Show a commitment to the core. Who knows, maybe Manny would sign.

    My Christmas wish I guess

  11. Dpsmith22

    December 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    If the rumor I heard of Michael Wacha, Kolton Wong, AND Jack Flaherty for Manny is true, what could possibly be holding that up?
    -Wacha has upside, he is only 26 and certainly helps this year, makes 2.5 mil and has 2 arbitration years left.
    -Wong, top prospect at one time. Has all the tools to be a solid 2nd basemen. Has some pop and has done fine vs lefties. Brings athletism.
    -Jack Flaherty is a top pitching prospect with the stuff and predigree to be a #2 starter. as early as next season, with the ability to a #5 now.

    Finding a better offer than this will be difficult.

  12. Churchton

    December 18, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    You gotta love the nats. That’s where I am going when the manny deal closes. Imagine paying the strike out king 20 mil for seven years. Fire dandy dan

  13. bats in the blefary

    December 19, 2017 at 5:22 am

    There is absolute truth to the saying, ” you snooze, you lose”. How can it be that they 1. didnt discuss a deal with Manny’s people for the last 2 years and 2. didnt have a better plan in place for this probability?

    In the Angelos era, a miserable failure, this has been the nonfunctional norm.

    • Osfan73

      December 19, 2017 at 6:05 am

      I agree and to your second point…..I believe Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It kind of feels like they didn’t plan real well for this. Hopefully it’s just as Mr. DC wrote above, that it gets done but is just going to take time. It shouldn’t IMO, i mean pick a deal you think best helps and do it already.

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