With no sufficient bid emerging, the Orioles are now indicating to interested organizations that star third baseman Manny Machado “is staying put,” according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). That could yet change if a big new offer comes in the door, but it seems that Baltimore will no longer actively shop the pending free agent.
On the one hand, then, this news isn’t that impactful. The club had indicated it was nearing the quitting point on active trade talks after prior reports made clear that the team would move on to other plans if its needs weren’t met. Teams that want to land the youthful star know they need to come with a significant package of talent to get something done. Baltimore has expressed a need to get back two quality, controllable starters to make a deal, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com’s report from this morning suggests the asking price remains the same.
On the other, it’s an important moment for the O’s offseason strategy. With Zach Britton’s Achilles injury also seemingly taking the club’s best relievers (Britton and Brad Brach) out of trade consideration, it seems the organization will largely maintain its existing core and go out looking to add starters in other ways. With at least two rotation pieces still on the wish list, and no interest in chasing the market for the best-available arms, the Orioles front office will need to work hard to find value.
That said, the rotation market has not moved much at all to this point, so there are plenty of options still out there. Whether or not the slow free agent action will lead to any particular number of bargains remains to be seen, but executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is certainly no stranger to waiting out late opportunities.
Barring a big change in the interest levels from other teams, Machado will evidently play out his original control rights in Baltimore before reaching free agency after the 2018 season. The sides will still need to work out a final-season salary — MLBTR projects a hefty $17.3MM arbitration pay-out — but there’s little reason to think at this point that an extension will realistically be considered.
Still, it’s wise not to rule things out so long as there’s still work to be done in the winter. An extension or trade would surprise at this point, but both are hypothetically just as plausible as ever.
Interestingly, should trade talks get moving again, Kubatko notes that the Cubs and Orioles discussed a variety of notable names. While there’s no reason to think all three Chicago players would have been included in the same deal, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, and Mike Montgomery all came up in chatter.