As trade rumors swirl around Manny Machado, fans and media have speculated on what kind of return package the Orioles might get if they trade their star third baseman.
Can the Orioles land a bounty of top-100 prospects? Can they get a major league ready starting pitcher? Some combination of both? Neither?
To offer an idea of what to expect, I pored through the last 10 years of MLB trades looking for similar deals involving star players. To narrow my search, I looked for trades of players who — like Machado — fit the following criteria:
- The player was younger than 30 at the time of the trade.
Players who are in their prime or approaching their prime tend to fetch a better return than over-30 players whose best years are likely behind them. Machado is 25, so that should affect the quality of prospects the Orioles would get in a trade.
- The player had at least a 15 career WAR and multiple MLB honors.
I’m looking for star players who provided a lot of value to their teams. I set 15 WAR (using Baseball Reference) as a minimum; anyone below that mark probably hadn’t yet established themselves as a star. I’m also looking for players who received plenty of recognition around MLB for their achievements, such as All-Star selections, Gold Gloves and/or Top 10 voting in year-end awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year). Machado, for instance, has a 27.9 career WAR, three All-Star selections, two Gold Gloves and three Top 10 MVP finishes.
- The player had one season remaining until free agency.
This is an important caveat. Generally, a player who has only one season left on his contract isn’t going to command as much of a return as someone with multiple years of team control. I’m also not including pending free agents who were traded during the season, since their new teams didn’t get a full year out of them. I’m looking for players with exactly one year remaining on their contracts at the time of the trade — no more, no less.
I found five trades in the last decade that fit the criteria. Here’s a look at how those deals panned out.