An era in Baltimore may be coming to an end. According to various reports, a trade involving All-Star third baseman Manny Machado is one of the topics being discussed at the winter meetings. After another solid season for the Orioles, Machado’s career is at a crossroads. His contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, and the worst-case scenario for the Baltimore Orioles is allowing Machado to walk away from Baltimore without a legitimate contract extension offered. If Machado signs with another team next year, the Orioles will only receive a draft pick for him as compensation.
Machado is a valuable player for the Orioles, and if he were traded, the Orioles would suffer greatly offensively and defensively. A homegrown talent, Machado was drafted with the third overall pick by the Orioles in the 2010 MLB Draft, and he quickly made it to Baltimore by 2012. He has never played for any other team outside Baltimore, but that may not be the case in 2018.
The Philadelphia Phillies have shown interest in trading for Machado, and Baltimore has been evaluating the Phillies’ top prospects in their farm system. The Phillies are a team with lots of young talent and are hoping to make significant progress in their rebuild next season. With or without Machado, they likely would have a chance to finish at or above .500 next season as their young players in the majors further their development and prospects from the minors get promoted. With Machado, their chances of doing that increase, and they could even be in the playoff conversation.
The Phillies are not the only team interested in Machado. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are also possible destinations for Machado, but they would likely need to sign him in free agency next winter since it’s hard to imagine the Orioles trading their young star to a division rival. If Machado would be in Boston or New York in the future, it will be because they dug deep into their pockets after the 2018 season.
Though Machado is still under Baltimore’s control for at least this year, Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ general manager, has a major decision to make on how to handle Machado’s contract situation. He has said that retaining Machado beyond 2018 is something the organization is strongly considering, but Baltimore has not been known for handing out massive contracts, which Machado would most certainly demand. Chris Davis’ seven-year, $161 million is the largest in franchise history, but Machado would likely pursue a deal in the range of $225-$300 million over a decade or more.
The Orioles should embrace a rebuild if they want to eventually contend with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, but Duquette has expressed reluctance to the idea. An overhaul of the team would make the near future quite bleak, but multiple seasons of disappointment and failed contract extensions would also not be fun. The Orioles should trade Machado this winter, but they will likely keep him to start next season and hope they can extend his contract.
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