There was a report Thursday that the Orioles are not going to trade third baseman Manny Machado.
Expect more of that today, maybe even an official on-the-record comment from executive vice president Dan Duquette that the club is moving on with its offseason plans for improvement with Machado as part of the lineup.
The Orioles’ offices will basically go dark this weekend and stay that way for a week. Who wants more rumors circulating at Christmas?
I get that. I also understand that people hear things and they want to publish them with their names attached – show they are on top of the news. That’s fine, too. Makes for good consumption.
But here’s the deal: I’ve been around this organization a long time. I know how it works. And I’ve been around Major League Baseball a long time. I understand how it works, too.
These incremental updates are white noise.
Machado never will be officially off the trade block now that the Orioles listened to offers for him. I guess you can say they are no longer shopping him, but club officials will tell you they never were shopping Machado. Teams had interest. The Orioles listened and they didn’t get the offer deemed necessary to deal him.
So that’s it? This is over?
No, of course not.
Simply considering a trade of Machado was a big step for the Orioles, because it represented a potential rebuilding plan in Baltimore.
Taking that step tells me that they aren’t going backward. It’s still under consideration no matter what words trickle out.
If a team comes to the Orioles on, say, Tuesday and offers the right package – specifically a couple high-ceiling pitchers in or near the majors — then Machado is elsewhere in 2018. That’s how baseball works.
Remember at FanFest in December 2015 when Dan Duquette made a declaration that the Orioles were no longer pursuing Chris Davis? Negotiations were done. The Orioles had moved on.
The next month Davis signed with the Orioles – his price dropped and owner Peter Angelos and agent Scott Boras negotiated and, voila, Davis is an Oriole through 2022.
Justin Verlander wasn’t waiving his trade clause last July. He wanted to stay with the Detroit Tigers and the Tigers wanted to keep their ace. On Nov. 1, Verlander was a World Champion – with the Houston Astros.
Posturing is woven into the fabric of baseball.
The bottom line here is that the Orioles are convinced Machado won’t sign long-term with them for anything below market value. Market value for Machado will be in the $300 million range, and the Orioles aren’t going there.
So, ultimately, they’ll deal Machado. It could be in July. But my guess is it will be before Opening Day. Probably well before.
Could I be wrong?
Sure. This was always going to be a tricky transaction.
It involves the team’s best player, major criticism awaiting if the Orioles don’t get a perceived windfall and a broad group of decision-makers that need to be unified.
There’s also the other side of this: The Orioles have to find a partner that has quality upper-level pitching available and also is close enough to contending for a World Series that that club would be willing to give up multiple quality players in exchange for one year of Machado.
That’s what could sink a Machado deal.
But not a half-hearted declaration that he’s not being traded or that trading him is no longer a focus or that the Orioles are no longer listening to offers.
Truth is the Orioles don’t have to trade Machado. There is no real deadline. But it’s also in the best interest for the club to do so before all that’s left is draft compensation when Machado walks away.
Ten days ago, I didn’t think the Orioles would deal Machado. Then they entertained the idea. That’s the first step, one that’s difficult to retrace.
That’s why I now think a deal will happen at some point.
Until then, everything else is simply noise filling the silence.