The Baltimore Orioles are trying to trade 3B Manny Machado for two controllable starting pitchers. Great. Just one problem… Machado is a free agent after next season and they don’t want to give an acquiring team a 72 hour window to work out an extension.

It’s not news that the Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst run franchises in professional sports: from giving away their international bonus pool money (!) to having one of the worst farm systems in the game, to having an owner who refuses to rebuild even when it’s obvious to the most casual fan that it’s time for one… the Baltimore Orioles find themselves in yet another bad situation. They reportedly didn’t approach Machado about an extension for YEARS, and would almost certainly be turned down anyway as he is expected to receive a monster contract next off-season. Not to mention, Machado is reportedly determined to test out the free agent market. Considering they don’t look nearly as good as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, logic says that the best course of action is to trade him.

Unlike many people, I’m not that high on Manny Machado. Yes, he’s a great defender who can also play shortstop, he doesn’t strike out that much and is only 25… I get it, that said though he’s had two major knee surgeries and doesn’t walk much. Take a look at his batting line over the past few years (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com):

His six year batting line average is .279/.329/.476, and he batted .259/.310/.471 in 2017. Clearly this isn’t a prime Albert Pujols. Does that batting line look like it’s worth a record-setting contract? In his six years in the majors, Machado accumulated 27.9 rWAR which gives him an average of 4.65 per season. In contrast: Mike Trout accumulated 55.2 rWAR in his seven years, averaging to 7.9 per season. If Machado is worth $400 million, how much is Trout worth?! Baltimore are going nowhere and unless they want a lesser return at the 2018 trading deadline or a draft pick, they need to trade him ASAP. So, what is he worth? Considering that he only has one year of control left at a double-digit salary, he’s worth a top 5 organizational prospect and a couple lottery ticket prospects. Too low? Well one year of control of a player who I highly doubt is that much of a difference-maker can’t possibly be worth too much… but fine let’s say a top 5 organizational prospect and a top 10 one. Sound fair? Well apparently not to Baltimore, who want two starting pitchers with multiple years of control and presumably at pre-arb or just recently post-arb salaries!

Cost-controlled good starting pitchers are the most valuable assets in the game today, so why would any team give TWO away for a player who is about to hit free agency?! If we assume that each of those pitchers has six years of control attached, and can provide at least 1.5 rWAR per season, that adds up to 18 rWAR in exchange for let’s say 7 rWAR of Machado (generous prediction for 2018). Unless that player is Mike Trout and the team is literally one player away from a championship, it’s just not going to happen. Predictably the offers that Baltimore’s getting are falling well short of their expectations and leading them to consider pulling Machado from the trading block… Did I mention that their owner Peter Angelos also does not want to trade with the New York Yankees and any team who would trade Machado to them?! As usual the Baltimore Orioles are acting as if they have leverage when they do not.

Good starters aren’t interested in signing with Baltimore as free agents, even Tyler Chatwood turned them down this offseason. Their rotation is one of the worst in the majors and they just lost closer Zach Britton for most of the upcoming season to an injury. At best they’ll get a second Wildcard and an early playoff exit, that is if they can get past Boston, Minnesota, Toronto or the Los Angeles Angels (teams they would likely be expected to compete with for a Wildcard spot). Are they comfortable filling out their rotation with the likes of Moguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago? By the way did I mention that they also don’t believe in giving out competitive contracts to free agent starters?

They won’t get more if they hold him until the trading deadline, instead they will almost certainly get a lot less. Two-three months of Machado is not even remotely worth 2 cost-controlled starting pitchers. Let’s not forget that it’s usually pitching that is in high demand at the trading deadline too. Barring injury, how many contenders can be expected to move top prospects for a 3B/SS at all? They desperately need to take the best offer now, but as usual they will end up keeping him, missing the playoffs, and getting a draft pick that they will waste in return.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports.

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