Orioles grab win on Friday but drop sixth series of the year

Game 1 (3-1 BAL): The Orioles kicked off the weekend by breaking their six game losing streak. With Dylan Bundy on the mound there was plenty of reasons to be optimistic from a pitching perspective but could the offense pick up the slack? In his previous four starts, Bundy received just 1.5 runs of support per outing.

That changed on Friday though. Bundy started his night by surrendering a run in a bases loaded jam, but quickly settled down to go six innings and earn himself a long overdue win.

Short Stop Manny Machado had a great series offensively and defensively. With the Orioles offense still asleep, Machado jump started the scoring effort with a solo homer in the fourth inning to tie the game at one. The following inning the O’s put together some good at bats to get some runners on base before turning the lineup over. Leadoff hitter Trey Mancini followed this up with a two run double to the left center gap, giving the Orioles a lead they would not give up.

There hasn’t been very many reliable relievers in the bullpen so far this season but Buck Showalter pulled out his best options to hold the 3-1 lead. Richard Bleier worked through the seventh and eighth inning on just 19 pitches. After allowing a pair of base runners in the seventh, Bleier found himself in a little bit of trouble. Cleveland third baseman, Jose Ramirez smoked a ball up the middle that looked like an easy RBI off the bat. To the crowds surprise Manny Machado make a phenomenal diving stop before flipping the ball to second base for the inning ending out.

In the ninth inning Showalter opted to bring Darren O’Day out for the save instead of closer Brad Brach. The decision paid off as O’Day struck out two and retired the side on 16 pitches to earn his first save of the year.

The only problem to arise in Friday’s win was when Trey Mancini suffered a knee injury. In the eighth inning Mancini gave a pop up in foul territory a good chase before sliding and just missing out on a great catch. Unfortunately, Mancini’s momentum carried him farther than he wanted and his right knee made contact with the unpadded section of the third base line wall. Mancini immediately grabbed his knee in pain but returned to his feet to walk off the field. Post game MRI’s revealed no major issues but Mancini was left out of the starting lineup for the rest of the series.

Game 2 (4-0 CLE): The O’s limited offensive production did not carry over to Saturday afternoon. Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just two hits and two walks. Meanwhile the Orioles were forced to send Chris Tillman out for another start. The veteran pitcher quickly fell behind the Indians and surrendered two runs through the first four innings but managed to keep his pitch count down.

Tillman entered the sixth looking pretty decent but ended up giving up a pair of solo homers that inning to end his afternoon. It was far from pretty but still marks the best start of the year for Tillman. A quality offense could certainly work with four runs through six innings but so far this year the Orioles offense has been anything but quality.

Tanner Scott tossed two clean innings of relief following Tillman’s exit, giving up just one hit. Scott saw action against the Yankees earlier this month and surrendered a run in 1.2 innings of work. This was certainly a nice bounce back performance for the 23-year-old lefty but we will see if Buck Showalter gives him more innings in the near future.

It was a rough afternoon for the Orioles but a few defensive plays by Chance Sisco are worth noting. With the Orioles facing a stretch of right handed pitchers, the left-handed-hitting catcher Sisco has gotten more opportunities to start behind the plate.

On Saturday the rookie threw out three Cleveland players trying to steal second base between the sixth and ninth inning. This is the first time an Orioles catcher has successfully thrown out three base runners in a game since Matt Wieters in 2012. Sisco has now stopped seven of the eleven base steal attempts against him this season.

Game 3 (7-3 CLE): The Orioles lineup came back to life in time for Sunday afternoons game. Andrew Cashner didn’t have his best stuff working, allowing four runs through six innings, but the O’s managed to score three runs off of Corey Kluber to make it a close game anyway.

Manny Machado hit two more solo home runs and Chris Davis brought home the third run on a RBI single. Through four starts prior to this weekend, Kluber had not surrendered more than two runs in an outing. However, the O’s could not keep that momentum going and were completely shutdown by the Cleveland bullpen.

With that being said, the Orioles didn’t have much of a shot at a comeback or walk off after Brad Brach gave up three runs in the top of the ninth. Place the blame wherever you want but at the end of the day the O’s, once again, found themselves in the loss column.

Game 4 (2-1 CLE): Monday nights series closer was another close game. Kevin Gausman looked like he might have been in for a rough outing when he gave up a two run homer in the second to Yonder Alonso, but found his rhythm and ended up giving up just two more hits through the next six innings. Gausman ended his night after eight innings with seven strikeouts.

Of course the offense was borderline nonexistent, rendering Gausman’s phenomenal start useless. The O’s responded to the Indians two run homer by getting one back in the bottom half of the inning but tat ended their run production for the night. With runners on first and second, Chance Sisco came to the plate and picked up his fifth RBI of the season.

The Orioles saw three different pitchers and struck out 11 times, marking the teams sixteenth game this season with double digit strikeouts. Coincidentally, the loss also marks the Birds sixteenth game where they scored three runs or less.

Up next: The Orioles will host the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday through Thursday this week. Alex Cobb is slated to start in the series opener, which will be his first time pitching against his former team. The Rays are the only AL East team the O’s have not faced yet this season and currently sit three games games above Baltimore in the standings.

Image credit: Gail Burton / AP 

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Orioles look to end losing streak in weekend series against Cleveland

In the span of three weeks the Orioles fan base has gone from cautiously optimistic to crisis mode. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a good reason though. The O’s enter this weekend with a six game losing streak and a 2-8 record in their last ten games.

The Birds have quickly sunk to the bottom of the AL East while the Red Sox continue to dominate and build a comfortable lead early in the season. As of today, the Orioles are nine games below .500 and 11.5 games out of first place with no signs of erasing that deficit anytime soon.

So what are we to blame for this terrible start? Surprisingly, the starting rotation is not the go to answer. Instead, the offense has continued to be the let down so far this season. Through the first 19 games, only four O’s players are batting above .250 and two of them, Pedro Alvarez and Chance Sisco, are not even playing everyday.

Of course this has resulted in some league lows in almost every offensive category. The Orioles currently hold the second worst batting average and slugging percentage in the league. The run production has suffered as well. In their last six games, the Orioles have been outscored 43-22 and have currently rank in the bottom five for RBI.

So where are these runs coming from? In years past it would be easy to point to some of the unreliable starters that made up the rotation but in a surprising turn of events, the bullpen has been the main liability so far in April. Only Brad Brach and Richard Bleier have an ERA below 3.50 while the other four to five regular members of the bullpen have traded awful relief efforts, costing the O’s and their anemic offense a few potential win opportunities late in the game.

Lets not let the starting five completely off the hook though. Sure, Dylan Bundy has shown signs of becoming a true ace in his first four starts and Andrew Cashner has proven to be consistent, but there are still some big issues present. Alex Cobb has clearly proved that he was not ready for the regular season after giving up 12 earned runs in two starts that lasted less than four innings.

Cobb could have benefited greatly from more time in extended spring training but with Chris Tillman and Mike Wright both struggling to go at least five innings in most of their starts, the Orioles were forced to roll the dice and bring their newly acquired starter up a little early.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Friday, April 20, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (0-2, 1.40 ERA) vs Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, April 21, 4:05 pm – Chris Tillman (0-3, 11.91 ERA) vs Mike Clevinger (1-0, 2.70 ERA) – FS1, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, April 22, 1:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs Corey Kluber (2-1, 1.52 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Monday, April 23, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 2.60 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Image credit: NBC Sports

Orioles get back on track with three wins against Yankees in New York

Coming into this weekends series against their division rival, the Orioles had lost five games in a row and were desperate for a win. The O’s would break their streak with a win on Friday before picking up a pair of extra inning wins to take the series 3-1.

Game 1 (5-2 BAL): The Orioles started this weekend’s marathon series with their best overall performance of the season. More importantly, they picked up a win to end a five game losing streak. Andrew Cashner got the start for the O’s and turned in a great performance to get his season back on track. The newly acquired starter struggled in his Orioles debut last week but found a great deal of success against the Yankees, giving up just two hits and one run in six innings of work.

Despite having such an exceptional night on the mound, Cashner was close to earning a no decision as the O’s offense had failed to score through the first six innings. Luckily for Cashner, the Birds bats came to life in the top of the seventh to make him the pitcher of record.

Yankees starter, Masahiro Tanaka had handled the Orioles very well but started to fall apart when the Baltimore lineup came around for their third round of at bats. Johnathan Schoop got the inning started with a single in an eight pitch at bat. After losing that battle to Schoop, Tanaka quickly gave up a two run homer to Adam Jones. Just like that, the Orioles had taken the lead but they were not done yet.

Another single by Tim Beckham chased Tanaka out of the game but Chad Green did not fare any better in relief. An RBI double by Anthony Santander and two RBI single by Trey Mancini capped off the five run inning for the O’s.

Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach closed out the game, allowing just five base runners and one run in their combined three innings of work. After blowing an opportunity on opening day, Brach earned his first save of the season.

Game 2 (7-3 BAL): After getting things back on track in Thursday’s series opener, the Orioles needed to build on it and keep the momentum going. It wouldn’t be easy and it certainly wouldn’t be quick but after 14 innings of high intensity baseball, the Orioles picked up a win in an instant classic.

Both starters were not spectacular but handled their business in their time on the mound. Kevin Gausman followed in Cashner’s footsteps to give himself a rebound outing while CC Sabathia’s night was cut short due to a hip injury. The Yankees veteran pitcher had given up three runs through his first four innings but had only thrown 58 pitches. It’s safe to say that the Yankees would have liked to get a few more innings out of their starter considering the length of the game.

Both bullpens, on the other hand, were exceptional. The five relievers that pitched for the O’s combined to give up just one run on two hits. That lone run came via a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the eighth inning. Pitching wasn’t the only thing the O’s relievers did to save the game though. Mychal Givens came through with a huge defensive play to keep the game alive in the bottom of the eleventh.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Givens lost control of a pitch and sent one bouncing toward the backstop. With Gregorius barreling toward home plate for the winning run, Caleb Joseph was able to gather the ball quickly and flip it to Givens who ran off the mound to cover the plate. Givens extended his leg as if he was stealing a base, blocking Gregorius’ path in the process. Everything about the play was perfect, except for the wild pitch that caused it, and took place in a matter of seconds.

The Yankees would come back with a potential game saving play of their own in the thirteenth inning. In another two out situation, Caleb Joseph was at the plate for the O’s and he would end up getting a great pitch to hit when Jonathan Holder let a fastball sail high in the zone. Joseph sent the ball deep to right field but Aaron Judge was able to get a good read and follow it all the way to the wall before making a swift leap to rob the O’s of a go-ahead homer.

With the game already lasting well over five hours, the Orioles finally had enough in the fourteenth inning. After getting bailed out by Judge, Holder returned to the mound looking to keep the game tied. This time he would not be as lucky. The Orioles quickly loaded the bases with a Trey Mancini walk, a Manny Machado single and a perfect bunt by Jonathan Schoop. Adam Jones came to the plate next and battled with Holder for a six pitch at bat. Holder would end up retiring Jones on a controversial strikeout call that left the O’s captain furious.

Pedro Alvarez was up to bat next and before Jones could even calm himself in the dugout, the Orioles designated hitter sent a rocket to right field on the very first pitch he saw. The grand slam gave the O’s a huge 7-3 lead which they would hold through the bottom half of the inning for a thrilling game two win.

Lost in the madness of extra innings was a spectacular night for Manny Machado. The Orioles shortstop saw seven at bats on Friday and reached base in six of them with two home runs.

Game 3 (8-3 NYY): Friday nights game didn’t end until well past midnight which isn’t the biggest deal in the world, especially since the Orioles took home a win, but both teams were asked to make a quick turnaround as game three was slated for an early afternoon start.

It was a close game through the first five innings. Chris Tillman was once again far from dominate but put the Orioles in a position to win. With the game tied at three, the Yankees were able to take a lead by jumping on Tillman as he came back out for the sixth inning. Gregorius got the rally started with a four pitch walk and it was all down hill from there for Tillman as he faced four more batters and only retired one.

The Yankees kept that momentum going in the seventh inning, scoring three more runs off of Jimmy Yacabonis who had been called up earlier in the day. On the other hand, the New York bullpen was stellar after getting taxed heavily the night before. Adam Warren, David Robertson, and Luis Cessa combined to give up just two hits while closing out the final three innings.

Game 4 (8-7 BAL) : After three tough games it was only fitting that Sunday’s series finale followed suit. The O’s started the game by digging themselves into a hole when Mike Wright gave up five runs and recorded just two outs before being yanked from the game by Buck Showalter. It’s difficult to pull a starter extremely early, especially when you have had to use your bullpen a lot in recent games.

That decision by Showalter would pay off though. The Orioles went on to slowly chip away at the Yankees five run lead over the next four innings. RBI singles by Beckham and Santander got the O’s back on track before Danny Valencia made it a one run game with a two run homer in the fifth inning.

The orioles bullpen did a great job at coming in and keeping the Yankees under control while the offense made their comeback effort. Pedro Araujo finished off the first inning and worked through the third before turning it over to Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott who both gave up a run a piece.

After getting a run back in the sixth the O’s took their first lead of the game in the seventh. Danny Valencia got on base with a walk and Anthony Santander followed with a two run shot to give the Birds a 7-6 lead. Domingo German fell behind 3-0, giving Santander the green light for the first home run of his career.

That lead would not last too long though. In the bottom half of the seventh the Yankees were able to tie the game up at seven with an RBI single by Austin Romine. The game would remain tied through regulation, sending the two AL east rivals to extra innings for the second time this weekend.

In the twelfth inning the Orioles dug in against Adam Warren. A walk by Pedro Alvarez and a single by Anthony Santander put two on for Craig Gentry with two outs. The utility outfielder battled Warren for an intense, ll pitch at bat that ended in an RBI single for Gentry.

Brad Brach came on to pitch the bottom half of the inning and quickly walked the first two batters. The Orioles closer followed that with an error while trying to field a bunt by Brett Gardner. The huge mistake loaded the bases with no outs and brought Aaron Judge to the plate.

The game looked all but over but Brach was able to get an unconventional double play by throwing out the lead runners at home and third on a short grounder by Judge. With one more out needed Brach settled in and got Giancarlo Stanton to strike out for the fifth time in the game, capping off another thrilling extra inning win.

Up next: The Orioles will return home early this week for a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. These early season AL East matchups are tough but could prove to be big as the season progresses.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / AP

Series Preview: Orioles look to spoil Astros World Series celebration

HOUSTON — The 2018 MLB season is in full swing and the Baltimore Orioles are off to a somewhat concerning start. Even though we are only three games into the season and using this first series as a projection of the O’s entire campaign is absurd, we can still look at the immediate road ahead and be worried.

To start, the Orioles have one of the toughest April schedules in the league. The defending world champion Astros are up next but the rest of the month is filled with division opponents like the Yankees and Red Sox as well as the perennial contending Cleveland Indians. Combine this with the fact that the O’s only have one off day this month and there was a reason to be cautious even before the players took the field.

The Orioles schedule is one thing but their production on the field holds more weight. So far the Orioles have experienced a lot of the ups and downs of a 162 game season in the span of one weekend. Opening day featured an excellent pitchers duel with Dylan Bundy tossing seven strong innings of work. The bullpen had trouble closing the door in the ninth, but for the third straight year the home crowd got an early taste of Orioles magic as Adam Jones launched a walk off home run to give the birds a 3-2 victory.

The rest of the series was not as exciting for the home team. The Orioles lineup managed to record just six hits and two runs between Saturday and Sunday. I’m not trying to sound like captain obvious but you can’t win if you don’t score runs. With that being said, the pitching didn’t fare any better. Andrew Cashner struggled in his Orioles debut, giving up five runs (four earned) in five innings of work. Kevin Gausman took the mound for Sunday’s rubber match and surrendered four runs in the first inning before making an early exit in the fourth.

It wasn’t the best start to the year for the birds but we already know the road ahead will be even more unforgiving. The Houston Astros will host the Orioles this week for their home opener. Monday night’s game will surely be an electric environment as the Astros prepare to receive their world series rings and unveil a championship banner for their home crowd.

To make things worse, the O’s will be entering this series with the back end of their starting rotation which has a lot of question marks surrounding it. Chris Tillman will look to start his bounce back year on Monday and Mike Wright will get the nod on Tuesday as Alex Cobb continues to work his way through an extended spring training.

Unlike the Orioles, Houston was able to flex their muscle this past weekend. The Astros took a four game series from the Texas Rangers 3-1 while outscoring them 22-11. Reigning American League MVP, Jose Altuve led the way on offense with nine hits and five runs while the starting rotation gave up just six runs and collected 30 strikeouts as a group.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, April 2, 7:00 pm – Chris Tillman (2017: 1-7, 7.84 ERA) vs Charlie Morton (2017: 14-7, 3.62 ERA) – MASN, ESPN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, April 3, 8:10 pm – Mike Wright (2017: 0-0, 5.76 ERA) vs Justin Verlander (1-0, 0.00 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, April 4, 2:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.50 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Image Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Mark Trumbo to miss start of season after MRI reveals quad strain

After experiencing some lingering issues in spring training, Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo underwent an MRI on Tuesday. The test revealed a Grade 2 quadriceps strain that will sideline the slugger for three to four weeks.

Trumbo recently missed about a week of action but returned to the field on Wednesday for the Orioles game against the New York Yankees. The 32-year-old was penciled in the lineup as a designated hitter and saw three plate appearances.

Manager Buck Showalter said Trumbo was fine during the game but experienced some stiffness and soreness while driving home, leading the team to request an MRI. The tests revealed a more serious injury that will likely force Trumbo to miss the beginning of the season.

With opening day just two weeks away, the Orioles will be without one of their best power hitters as they prepare to compete in the tough American League East. Trumbo has hit 70 home runs while batting .246 in two seasons with Baltimore.

Image credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Early takeaways, quotes from Orioles Fanfest

BALTIMORE — The early months of the year mean one thing for Baltimore Orioles fans – Fanfest. The annual gathering took place on Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center. In a time where several important decisions face the franchise, both on and off the field, this offseason has been a quiet one for the O’s. Every year, Fanfest gives both fans and the media an opportunity to hear from the likes of manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette, both of whom’s contracts expire after the 2018 season. Now that the fan forum and multiple media sessions have ended with the Orioles’ brass, there’s some clarity of where things stand for this team a few months away from the regular season.

Takeaway #1 – Manny Machado will play shortstop this season, Tim Beckham will shift to third base

Speaking of expiring contracts, Manny Machado‘s $16 million arbitration settling marks the last year the Orioles have him under club control. Barring a contract extension, Machado will become a free agent after the season and command a contract worth over $300 million, a figure the Orioles have never come close to touching. The relationship between Machado and the Orioles appears to be at a standstill, as both him and Jonathan Schoop backed out of their Fanfest appearances that were scheduled for this weekend.

At the Convention Center, Orioles season ticket holders drilled both Showalter and Duquette with questions, a lot of them inquiring about Machado’s status. Showalter revealed that Machado will slide over to shortstop this season, and that Tim Beckham will shift to third base. Shortstop is Machado’s natural, preferred position, but he’s played third base for Baltimore since being called up in 2012. Machado has always wanted to play shortstop, and now that J.J. Hardy seems to not be in the plans (or possibly retiring), this is not a shocking move. Judging on how the Orioles have handled Machado’s contract situation, it’s safe to assume that he’s not happy with where things stand right now. If so, I think letting him play his preferred position in possibly his final year in Baltimore is a smart move.

Takeaway #2 – O’s relationship with Machado, Schoop is suffering

Since Machado and Schoop backed out of their Fanfest appearances at the last minute, fans also asked Showalter and Duquette about where things stand with the two young superstars.

Duquette – “Obviously, we’re disappointed they’re not here. We talked to them about the merits of being here and being available to our fans, but they’re not here. That’s all I have to say about it.”

Showalter – “I’m disappointed that Jon’s not here. I think we all get advice along the way and heed some of it and some we don’t. I think he got some bad advice and it’s one of those things. We’ll move on and it’s unfortunate.”

More Buck – “I’ve gotten a feel for what Manny’s absence is about and I have a pretty good understanding of that. Jon’s I don’t. The reasons I’ve been given, not very good.”

Although Schoop remains under club control one year more than Machado, they remain best friends off the field. Showalter claimned that Schoop got “bad advice” from his agent, but it’s clear that Schoop is just as unhappy as Machado.

Awkward.

Takeaway #3 – Still no clarity or direction with starting rotation issues

As of now, the only pitchers locked into the Orioles’ starting rotation are Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. That’s a problem. Yes, the free agent market for starting pitchers is rough, and starting pitchers are expensive, but the Orioles did nothing this offseason to improve a rotation that finished 2017 with a 5.70 ERA.

When asked about addressing the starting rotation before the regular season starts, Duquette did not have much to say that has not been said already.

“We still have some work to do with our starting pitching – yeah, a lot of heads nodding,” Duquette said. “That’ll be the key to the team, if we can find some starting pitching. The other [positions] will be able to sustain a competitive team. If we can’t find the starting pitching we need and the depth, it’s going to be a difficult year.”

Duquette also stated that he’s “confident” that the Orioles can add some starting pitching, and that he would like to have that done by March 1, four weeks before the regular season begins.

More Nuggets:

Image Credit: Maryland Sports Blog

 

 

The Manny Machado decision: Which way should the Orioles go?

BALTIMORE – For the Baltimore Orioles, the year 2018 could leave a mark on the entire franchise for years to come. Not only are a bunch of expiring contracts to several veterans staring the Orioles in the face, but the contracts of both Manager Buck Showalter and General Manager Dan Duquette expire after the ’18 season too. Last week, the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings took place in Orlando. The week-long gatherings ended just like they always do for the O’s: quietly.

Several players above the age of 30 on Baltimore’s roster enter the final years of their contract – outfielder Adam Jones, and relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton. Manny Machado, 25, also faces free agency after the season concludes. Machado made his season debut in 2012 at 19, and he’s one of the young stars of MLB. His longevity and superb infield skills make him the most attractive option out of the soon-to-be free agents on Baltimore’s roster.

The 2018-19 MLB offseason includes a star-studded free agent class, including Machado, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, and David Price of the Red Sox. The price tag for a young, everyday position player like Machado or Harper remains to be seen, but is expected to be in the ballpark (pun intended) of $400 million dollars. This would mark the first MLB contract to go upwards of $400 million. Giancarlo Stanton‘s record-breaking deal, signed in 2014 with the Miami Marlins (now with the Yankees), broke the bank at $325 million.

Before the winter meetings, O’s fans and media speculated on a possible Machado trade, but little was said by the team about the matter. Last week in Orlando, the trade rumors started to unfold, and reports claimed that up to 10 teams offered trade packages to the O’s for Machado. Despite the Orioles’ sudden willingness to listen to trade offers, no deal transpired. After the meetings concluded, Duquette did not seem in a rush to make a decision on this matter:

“We’re going to do what we can to put together the best club we can and obviously there is a lot of interest in [the] players on our roster who are going to be free agents,” Duquette told reporters at the conclusion of the meetings. “We need to sort through the extent of that interest and see if a trade makes sense.” 

The decision to listen to trade offers, especially on a big-name player, is not usually a protocol the Orioles follow. However, on Tuesday, former Cincinnati Reds / Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden, now a radio host at Sirius XM, Tweeted that the fate of Machado likely lies in the hands of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, not Dueuqtte, who handles all player transactions.

A lot of important decisions will be made by the Orioles over the next year. Whether or not Machado suits up for the Orioles beyond 2018 is clearly the most important one, and fans of The Birds share conflicting opinions.

In regards to Machado, three situations could play out. The Orioles could sign Machado to a long-term contract, trade him before his contract expires, or let him walk in free agency. Here’s a likely breakdown of how each scenario would play out, as well as the probability that I think each option has of actually occurring.

1. Sign Machado to a long-term deal 

I don’t know about you, but this scenario appears unlikely. I give the Orioles all the credit in the world for finally breaking the bank in the form of $161 million for Chris Davis two years ago. What I will not give them credit for is spending that type of money on a player like Davis, and we know how his contract looks now.

I get the impression that spending $400 million on anyone, let alone on Manny Machado, would not sit well with Mr. Angelos. Baltimore remains one of the smaller markets in the MLB. In Angelos’ now 24-year run as the owner of the Orioles, the Davis contract stands out as the biggest investment Angelos made on a player by far. With that said, the deal the Orioles ended up giving to Davis out-bidded Baltimore’s prior offer of $150 million, which is the only other offer Davis received. In the two seasons since the O’s locked Davis up, the 31-year-old owns a .218 batting average with 414 strikeouts.

Attendance could also factor into whether or not the Orioles give Machado a payday. In 2017, the Orioles ranked 25’th in the majors with an average of 25,042 fans per home game (and many games saw attendance figures far less than that average. A historic Machado contract could result in a steep ticket price increase. With Davis virtually un-moveable, signing Machado to a monster contract might not match up financially.

Paying Machado also means that the Orioles limit themselves in their ability to strengthen the other areas of their ballclub. Yes, a new contract for Manny would take care of one infield position for the foreseeable future. I use the term “infield position” because recently Machado expressed an interest to play shortstop. It’s well known that the O’s like Machado at third base, so keeping him around would mean that an agreement on his position would need to take place.

Probability of happening: 10%

2. Trade Machado for prospects

After hearing about what transpired at the winter meetings last week, the chances of the Orioles trading Machado away appear more likely than before. From what reports claim, the Orioles received 8-10 trade offers for Machado from teams including the Phillies, Yankees, Cardinals, and White Sox.

Out of the teams listed, the farm systems of the White Sox, Yankees, and Phillies rank at the top of baseball. Looking at the current rankings on MLB Prospect Watch, the White Sox possess two of the top 100 prospects – OF Eloy Jimenez (.312 BA, 19 HR, 65 RBI with 3 teams in ’17) and RHP Michael Kopech (8-7, 2.87 ERA at AA Birmingham in ’17). Infielder Gleyber Torres (.287 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI with 2 teams in ’17), the current #2 prospect in baseball, is the Yankees’ top up-and-comer. These are just three names, but the Orioles’ farm system falls in the middle of the pack, particularly void in the pitching department.

Since the Orioles got back to competing in 2012, Duquette shipped off a number of pitchers that found success elsewhere. Jake Arrieta, Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies, Ariel Miranda, and Parker Bridwell fall on the long list of names that got away. Dealing Machado would give the Orioles an opportunity to improve their arms in the minor leagues. It may not yield immediate results, but it would help the team in 2019 and beyond.

With any trade, the key is timing. Duquette and the O’s front office obviously have until the late July trade deadline to work out a deal, but trading him before the season begins would net a bigger return than a last-minute move. Without question, teams inquiring for Machado’s services want him for a full season, not just a playoff push.

I certainly believe that it will take a lot of convincing for Angelos to agree to a trade, but at least the Orioles are listening. That’s a start.

Probability of happening: 30%

3.  Let him play the season out and walk into the sunset

As much as we love Manny Machado, seeing him in an Orioles uniform the entire season without the team signing him long-term would go down as one of the worst moves in current sports history. In this scenario, the Orioles awkwardly go through the entire 2018 season, fail to hold onto one of the best young stars in the game, and in the process they also fail to improve their farm system.

Knowing what we know now, this situation still has a good chance to take place. It seems that Angelos feels hesitant to give away a star that came up through his system. It’s reasonable to believe that after seeing Davis struggle in the two years since signing his deal, Angelos feels hesitant to make a long-term investment and throw $400 million to Machado.

Probability of happening: 60%

Since he entered the league late in the 2012 season, Machado has been an amazing player to watch. He’s one of the best infielders in MLB and his bat can carry an offense at times. Although there are flaws to his game, he’s been the Orioles’ best player for a few seasons now. Saying goodbye to Manny will not be easy, but it may need to happen to better the Orioles as an organization. If we do say goodbye, hopefully the Orioles receive prospects back in return.

Image Credit: The Athletic