In his latest column, ESPN’s Buster Olney argues that the Orioles need to begin preparing for the possibility of trading superstar third baseman Manny Machado (Insider subscription required and highly recommended). Olney is careful to report that sources in the organization tell him no such talks have taken place, but he also lays out a compelling argument for dealing Machado this coming summer if the O’s aren’t in contention. Machado’s $11.2MM arbitration projection will take his career earnings north of $20MM, so he can afford to wait for free agency two years from now, financially speaking. And the Orioles have what is generally regarded as one of the game’s weaker farm systems, so moving Machado and other top-tier MLB assets (i.e. Zach Britton, Adam Jones) could net GM Dan Duquette the type of prospect bounty that would make for an accelerated rebuilding process.
O’s fans undoubtedly would prefer to see Machado extended, but I agree with Olney’s assessment that the window for that has likely closed. At this juncture, it’s hard to envision Machado signing anything less than a record-setting contract. He’s a better all-around player than Giancarlo Stanton, whose 13-year, $325MM contract is the current benchmark. Hitting the open market at age 26, Machado should shatter Stanton’s record contract barring some form of devastating injury. Of course, if Baltimore is in contention in 2017, then it’s all a moot point for a bit longer, as there’s no way the Orioles would (nor should they) consider dealing Machado and others if a potential postseason berth is in the cards.
A few more notes on the Orioles…
- Agent Scott Boras reached out to Orioles owner Peter Angelos one last time to try to get the O’s back into the Matt Wieters bidding before Baltimore signed Welington Castillo, reports MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. The Orioles were simply far more comfortable committing a modest $6MM salary in 2017 (and possibly $7MM in 2018) to Castillo than they were with considering the price levels that Boras is seeking for Wieters. Kubatko notes that Wieters’ situation may not be resolved before the calendar flips to 2017.
- Within that same piece, Kubatko reports that Colby Rasmus’ agents have reached out to the Orioles, but the team considers his current asking price to be too high. If the O’s do end up with Rasmus, a deal would have to be reached closer to Spring Training once his asking price drops a bit further. Rasmus struggled to a .206/.286/.355 batting line last year but played through myriad physical issues over the course of the season. Rasmus had a cyst surgically removed from his ear this past summer — an issue that very likely could’ve impacted his balance and all-around skill set — and underwent surgeries to repair his hip and a sports hernia following the 2016 season. A healthier Rasmus could be a nice rebound candidate, though the O’s likely aren’t alone in expressing some trepidation about committing a significant guarantee to a player coming off Rasmus’ recent injuries.
- Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes that the O’s are still looking for a defensive upgrade in the corner outfield and depth in the bullpen, but he casts some doubt on the team’s ability to squeeze in another acquisition prior to the holidays. The team’s talks with Mark Trumbo have been lagging a bit, and while the O’s haven’t pivoted to similar players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Chris Carter yet, Encina adds that they’ll eventually go that route if talks with Trumbo’s camp don’t intensify.