In this past Thursday’s column, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports details the attempts of the Orioles to extend star infielder Manny Machado “several years ago”. Machado, as MLBTR readers may remember, was traded to the Dodgers prior to July’s non-waiver trade deadline for a package of five prospects, including outfielder Yusniel Diaz.
Turning back the clock, though, there were myriad possibilities for Machado’s fate under former owner Peter Angelos’ tenure. At an undisclosed time in the club’s history, ownership was apparently prepared to pay Machado $64MM to remain in Baltimore for the next eight years. According to Heyman, multiple people familiar with the talks remember such negotiations taking place, also recalling that the contract would have represented “by far a record” for a player with that limited service at that point in time. Presumably, then, these negotiations took place during a year when Machado was not yet arbitration-eligible.
The people familiar with the negotiations apparently remember that Machado’s camp wanted an additional guarantee in the seven-figure range. More specifically, agent Dan Lozano was said to be open to a pact, but it had to “start with a 7”. As Heyman notes in his article, that means an amount as little as $1MM per year could have prevented a deal from getting done.
Clearly, not taking a deal has worked in Machado’s favor. While the extension would have shattered previous records for both total dollar amount and average annual value for a player with only a year or two of service time, such a contract would have offered team control over at least a pair of Machado’s would-be free agent seasons, for which he’ll now likely be paid at least $30MM a pop. It’s commonly accepted that the All-Star infielder could command a deal north of $300MM due to his young age and level of play, and any extension in the $70MM range would have promised him much less than that for the additional seasons of team control.
At first glance, it’s easy to think Orioles ownership might be kicking themselves for refusing to increase their extension offer. After all, the added control over Machado means he’d have commanded a far greater prospect package in order to be dealt at the deadline this season. But while it’s easy to see where the former Oriole is now and wonder why the heck Baltimore couldn’t loosen its purse strings a bit, one ought to remember that significant risk would have also come along with the deal. After all, he required surgery on both knees at different points throughout his career. And no young stud is a sure thing to replicate his production over the course of eight years, particularly if there’s injury risk in his player profile.
Machado will hit the open market on the heels of his fourth consecutive season of at least 33 homers, and a wOBA north of .325. His 29.7 career fWAR to date is more than a little impressive, and he’s even chipped in 14 steals on the season. He’ll receive the added advantage of entering free agency without the burden of a qualifying offer, since he’s ineligible for such a restraint after being traded mid-season.