Bringing back legends to assist with rebuild is a great move by Orioles

BALTIMORE — In recent weeks, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette has made it clear that the franchise is beginning to rebuild. The team has already dealt Manny Machado, Zach BrittonBrad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day, and Jonathan Schoop. Even though the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline already passed, the Orioles can still move players this month if they clear waivers. On the field, the next few years will be rough for the Orioles, but the hope is that the team can return to its competitive form in the early 2020’s.

In the last three weeks, the Orioles announced the returns of two team legends who will assist the ball-club in their quest to rebuild. On July 15, it was revealed that Brooks Robinson, who won 16 Gold Gloves with the O’s in 22 seasons, will come on as a special adviser. 10 days later, fellow Orioles legend – three-time Silver Slugger recipient Eddie Murray – showed up in town and revealed that he’s also coming back to Baltimore to serve as a special adviser, specifically to ‘Executive Vice President’ John Angelos.

Murray and Robinson will both serve the front office as special advisers, but their roles will differ. Robinson, 81, is 19 years older than Murray, so obviously his workload won’t be as heavy. Robinson and Murray both outlined their responsibilities during aired interviews on MASN.

“I’ll be doing some things to try to promote this club and get people to this stadium,” Robinson said. “It’s a beautiful ballpark, and the Orioles have always tried to get people in and get people into the community.” “I might go to Spring Training, I might do a fantasy camp, I might do a session with the players [at FanFest] that they have here in January. So that’s really my job.”

“I’m not going to say it’s broke, but it’s pretty close,” said Murray. “They’re not playing very well, but hopefully [I] can come in here and maybe add something. We’ll see what I’m capable of doing.” … “[John] was letting me know that there’s definitely going to be a change made here. They said this is their chance to shine, and they would really like to get this down here on this field turned around.”

Over the last few months its become clear that much of the power held by Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos is shifting to his two sons, John and Louis. Peter celebrated his 89th birthday on July 4 and it’s only fair to assume that he will not hold his post as majority owner much longer. Although John has worked for his father as the Orioles’ Executive VP since 1999, Peter has been, for the most part, calling the shots. No official announcement about a torch being passed from Peter to the kids has been made. However, it appears that John and Louis are taking over their father’s duties fairly quickly.

Both Robinson and Murray have been out of the game for a while, but they sure do know what it takes to win. Between both Orioles Hall-Of-Famers, the duo appeared in nine playoff runs, won three World Series Championships, and played on 26 teams that finished with winning records out of 36 combined seasons. They’ve seen first-hand what it takes to build a competitive, winning ball-club and do it consistently.

From the perspective of John Angelos, perhaps the Orioles’ Executive VP (if that’s still his current title) feels that bringing back player legends to advise team operations would not only give him an accredited voice to guide him, but it would also allow the Orioles to make amends with former players who were isolated by his father.

It’s no secret that Peter Angelos severed multiple relationships with long-time Orioles players and coaches. There was the infamous battle between Angelos and former manager Davey Johnson that led to Johnson’s resignation following the 1997 season in which Johnson’s Orioles fell to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship series. Johnson and Angelos never got along. Johnson’s slow downfall to resigning began when he ordered then-second baseman Roberto Alomar to to pay a $10,500 fine for not showing up to a team dinner and skipping an exhibition game during the All-Star Break. Johnson wanted the money to go towards a fundraiser that his wife was involved in, but Alomar paid the fine to a different charity after being told by the players’ union that Johnson’s orders could be classified as a ‘conflict of interest’. Angelos used this ammo on top of his already existing disdain towards Johnson to force the Orioles’ Hall-of-Famer into resignation.

Johnson actually resigned the same day that he won the AL Manager of the Year award. He had led the O’s to three straight playoff appearances and two trips to the ALCS. After Johnson resigned, the team endured 14 straight losing seasons. His presence was dearly missed.

Aside from Johnson, another detriment to Peter was his disregard for great players and team legends, including Robinson himself. According to a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Peter made promises he couldn’t keep, telling former players like Brooks and Frank Robinson that he would schedule meetings with them, but never returned their calls. The lack of communication between Angelos and famous Orioles caused many of those players to stay away from the team, especially when the team constantly lost.

Perhaps the most underlying problem with Peter is the fact that the successful law firm he launched in 1961 presumably takes up a large chunk of his time. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t create an excuse to not pay an equal amount of attention to a professional baseball team under your name.

Former Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail described Peter as ‘a lawyer who happens to run a baseball team‘, giving the impression that the firm always has been his first priority. During his reign of owning the Orioles, Peter has gotten involved in several team decisions that would normally be made by the general manager without interference from ownership. If the law firm was truly the first thing on his agenda, you have to wonder how much thought Peter actually put into each decision before putting his foot down.

The tactics of Peter Angelos have corrupted the once-great Orioles organization. Because the Angelos family, to date, almost never addresses fans or the media, bringing the dirty laundry to surface takes some digging. Aside from first-hand accounts from former players and managers who have worked under Angelos in the past, there’s not much to go off of. It’s one of those cases where you simply say “the proof is in the pudding”.

Even though the reign of Peter Angelos hasn’t been easy for the Orioles or the city of Baltimore, the early moves of John Angelos show that there’s some hope. Letting kids below the age of nine in for free was apparently the first big decision made by John, and now the credit for bringing back Robinson and Murray is going to him. If that’s the case, there’s certainly reason to being optimistic about the future of the Orioles, specifically ownership.

Murray and Robinson can’t offer anything on the field, and they won’t even be around full-time. Robinson’s age makes a part-time schedule best for him, and Murray lives on the west coast. But, from a baseball perspective, it’s a great move by John Angelos to have these two men in his ear as he begins to take over the ownership reigns from his father. There’s going to be a lot of pressure placed on John. Reaching out for advisement was not only a great move, but it will bring multiple heads together to try to get this franchise turned around as soon as possible.

Nothing is promised and the rebuild of the Orioles will take some time. With John now at the helm with former Orioles greats assisting him, there is going to be some sound baseball decisions made. Under Peter Angelos, this seemed to not be possible.

Image Credit: Baltimore Business News

Advertisements

Podcast Episode 4: Pop the champagne, Chris Davis has been benched!

Welcome to Episode 4 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with Nolan McGraw and Jake McDonnell. Things sound a little different this week with Nolan hosting the show as Jake enjoys his vacation.

The podcast begins with a look at a few of the famous figures in Baltimore to wear the number four in their career. The guys follow that up by diving right into a few of the big Orioles stories from this past weekend, including Chris Davis being benched and the Orioles interviewing Ned Colletti.

After discussing the tough news surrounding Richard Bleier and his injury, the guys transition into some Ravens talk. Lamar Jackson got the opportunity to run the offense during practice this past Thursday which quickly caught the attention of the national media. Nolan and Jake give their opinions on Jackson’s progress thus far and comment on the media circus forming around the rookie QB and starter, Joe Flacco.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode!

The tragedy of Chris Davis and the worst contract in Orioles history

The day is Apr. 5, 2013. It’s Opening Day at Camden Yards and Chris Davis just launched a grand slam into the left field seats to put the Orioles up 9-5 in the eighth inning. It marks his fourth home run in as many games to start the season but he is only getting started. Davis went on to finish that season with a franchise record 53 homers to accompany a solid .286 batting average and 138 RBI’s.

Fast forward five years and Davis is on pace for another 200+ strikeout season while hitting a measly .152 in the second month of the season. The O’s first baseman has reached a point where he would contribute more by riding the bench and it’s justifiably left the fan base very angry. Unfortunately, this terrible stretch is far from an anomaly for Davis, who has now hit below .250 in three of the last four seasons.

Plenty of players at the MLB level will put up similar numbers but only one has received a seven-year contract worth $161 million and that’s exactly where the problem comes in. Davis pulled one of the biggest con jobs in baseball history by turning two standout seasons into the most lucrative contract to ever come out of the front office in Baltimore.

Now let’s make no mistake, 2013 was a special year for Davis and his numbers don’t lie, but it’s the only year of his career where he produced something worthy of $23 million. Sure, 2012 and 2015 were quality years for Davis as well but far from enough to justify the deal he received. Despite this, you cannot deny Davis was an integral part of the Orioles’ successes between 2012 and 2015, which made him favorable in a town that had been starved of baseball glory for over a decade.

CaptureI would argue that the warning signs of Davis’ downfall were present between 2012 and 2015, particularly in 2014 when Davis slumped for most of the season before making an early exit due to suspension. This forced him to take nearly 150 less plate appearances than the year before but it didn’t stop him from striking out 173 times.

Yes, that is a lot of strikeouts. In fact, it now sits as the sixth highest single season strikeout total in franchise history. Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s ridiculous. Well, it gets even worse when you realize that all six of Davis’ seasons in Baltimore can be found on this list.

We tend to focus on the strikeouts a lot when it comes to Davis but 2014 was bad for him in almost every offensive capacity. His .196/.300/.404 line was one of the worst in his career, dating back to his time with the Texas Rangers where he never started a full season.

When the O’s ended up making the ALCS that year, many looked past or simply forget Davis’ concerning numbers at the plate. By the time he fixed them the following year, it was too late. The fan base was craving more playoff baseball after falling short of a World Series appearance the previous year and Davis’ bat was surely the answer to get them back, right? When the final weekend of the 2015 season rolled around, Davis received a standing ovation and pleas to stay in Baltimore from the home crowd at Camden Yards. Everyone was so convinced that Davis would be gone in a matter of weeks.

As luck would have it, weeks turned into months and Davis still had not reached a deal with another team. How could this be? These teams all saw what the Orioles didn’t, and that was a flawed, one-dimensional player asking for way too much money. After realizing they could make Davis an offer and he would actually listen, the Orioles got baited into paying him an insane sum of money to be their franchise first baseman until he turns 36 in the year 2022.

Not only was Davis a flash in the pan on offense, his defense has also taken a hit since signing the mega deal. Fans loved to taught the first baseman’s defensive skills but was he really that good? Davis has never won a Gold Glove, but you might be surprised to know he has some Gold Glove-worthy numbers under his belt. Davis posted a higher ultimate zone rating (UZR) than American League winner Eric Hosmer in both 2014 and 2015. The UZR metric is used to measure a player’s defensive ability by factoring in the aspects of defense that don’t show up in stat sheets like range and arm strength as well as the differences between different ball parks.

22d15a04-e051-4f7b-b2a7-51fe4182a407While he was not better than 2016 winner Mitch Moreland, Davis was still considered an above average defender based on UZR. It was around this time that fans were able to dismiss some of Davis’ troubles at the plate because they were not quite the norm yet and he was still a plus defender. However, the defensive numbers have taken a troubling dive in the past year and at this point we can’t even point to Davis’ defense as an excuse for him being in the lineup. His -2.4 UZR since the beginning of 2017 is the second-worst among qualified first baseman in the American league.

What makes Davis’ contract the worst in franchise history extends beyond his own numbers. The time period in which it happened is what truly makes the deal so puzzling and indefensible in hindsight. Obviously, no one would agree to this contract knowing what we do now but there’s really no sensible reason for the O’s to have fallen into this trap.

The Orioles are currently on the verge of a harsh reality. They have been avoiding this moment for a while but there is no way around it at this point. The core of this team is about to take a big hit and there isn’t anything in the farm system to compensate for that. It’s hard to say just how long the O’s can expect to be bottom feeders in the American league but we all remember the 14-year playoff drought that ran through the 2000’s. Those 65-to-75 win seasons are back and might be here to stay for the next few years.

I’m by no means blaming the Orioles’ current situation on Davis’ contract. The inability to develop pitching talent in-house and trading your farm system away for rentals at the deadline are contributors to the state of the Orioles in 2018, but Davis’ contract is certainly a big factor as well and here’s why.

Let’s start with the money. In the upcoming offseason the Orioles are set to lose their best player, Manny Machado. This has been a long time coming and now that the O’s know they have no chance of signing Machado, the only option is to trade him. Whether that actually happens or not doesn’t matter because we already know Machado will not be in an O’s uniform come 2019. In today’s market, $161 million is only a fraction of what Machado will command, but the O’s would certainly like to at least have that on hand to make him an offer because let’s be honest, Davis’ has not touched Machado in terms of value even when he is at the top of his game.

We knew Machado would be the better player in 2013 and we certainly know that now, but in case you need some numbers consider that Machado has had a higher WAR and WAA than Davis every year since 2013. Yes, that includes Davis’ two monster years where he hit 53 and 47 homers respectively.

Okay, maybe you’re not a fan of rolling out a huge deal for Machado either. That’s understandable. Especially considering there are more needs for this O’s team right now. That $161 million could have come in handy over the past few years when the Orioles were trying to entice free agent starters. Or maybe it could be divided into a couple of extensions for the young talent, like Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini and Dylan Bundy. Instead, you have an Orioles team with no financial leverage and $92 million still committed to a first baseman who has more strikeouts than hits and walks combined since signing his contract.

Besides the easy financial complaints we can look at the Orioles prospect options coming out of 2015. The previously mentioned Mancini made his MLB debut toward the end of the 2016 season, which didn’t come out of nowhere. He would follow that up with a full season in 2017 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote behind New York’s Aaron Judge and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi. Why on earth would the O’s commit seven years to a first baseman when you knew you had a prospect like Mancini ready to make his debut within the next year? Even if Mancini didn’t make it to the majors until the midway point or the end of 2017, you would be able to fill that hole at first for a much cheaper price than Davis.

In addition to that, everyone in the organization should have seen that Mancini was a more balanced hitter with the ability to hit for both contact and power while Davis is an aging free swinger with a home run-or-bust mentality. Now you have created a scenario where your first baseman of the future is getting a majority of his playing time outside his natural position.

I fear the negative effects of this signing have a chance to linger long into the future, which is why it should be considered the worst in franchise history. It’s not just Davis turning in bad numbers. It’s the fact that he is now stuck at the Major League level because of the financial commitment you made to him and he is bringing down the players around him.

rawImage

The Sporting News / Getty Images

So what other contracts can compete with this? Up until recently, Albert Belle was considered the worst signing in franchise history. After agreeing to a five year deal worth $65 million, Belle only played two years for the Orioles before being forced to retire because of the osteoarthritis in his hip. The loss was extremely disappointing due to how unforeseen it was but Belle had not shown any signs of dropping off and rarely missed time with injuries. In fact when Cal Ripken ended his consecutive game streak in 1998, Belle became the holder of the longest active streak.

Even though he was injured for three of those five years, Belle was worth his contract in the brief time he spent in Baltimore. The veteran slugger averaged 30 home runs and just 75 strikeouts in 1999 and 2000 while hitting .289. He would also extend his streak of 100 RBI seasons to nine by picking up 117 in 1999 and 103 in his final season.

Over the final three years of Belle’s contract he did not play for the Orioles but still took up a spot on the 40-man roster. This is the only aspect of the contract that made the team look especially foolish, but that changed when the O’s were reimbursed $27.1 million of the $39 million they paid Belle between 2001 and 2003 due to an insurance settlement.

Belle gets a lot of flack for being a clubhouse cancer and not playing a majority of the most expensive baseball contract of the late 90’s. However, Davis has already surpassed Belle in terms of being a bust with just under five full seasons left on his deal.

There isn’t really good answer as to what to do with him. No matter what it’s a waste of money but you have to decide if you’re willing to put a $161 million man in the minor leagues. Many would say yes but at the very least you have to try to give him less at bats if he is staying at the major league level. That means moving him down to the bottom of the order, where he belongs, or benching him for extended periods.

The Davis issue has been on everyone’s mind this week as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer made some interesting remarks on the first baseman and his effort. “You’ve got to make some adjustments,” Palmer said. “I don’t see anything. I don’t see a wider stance. I don’t see him dropping his hands. I don’t see anything.”

The comments seemed normal enough until Palmer dropped a bit of a bomb on listeners.

“He told everybody in spring training that he worked with Scott Coolbaugh,” Palmer said. “So, I asked Scott, ‘Hey, you must have really put in a lot of work.’ He goes, ‘We didn’t work.’ So, I don’t believe anything.”

The legitimacy of Palmer’s comments have been debated with Coolbaugh and Davis defending their work. Assuming these claims are true, the Orioles have an even bigger problem on their hands than an overpaid player. They have an overpaid player unwilling to make adjustments like any other struggling player would. It makes you wonder if benching Davis even sends a message. Buck Showalter seems to think so but continues to place Davis in the middle of the lineup almost every day.

Unfortunately, the only thing we can do now is watch the madness of this contract continue to unfold. It probably won’t be pretty and I’d be willing to put money on the entire situation getting worse before it possibly gets better. All the evidence is right in front of us and it’s not even debatable anymore. Chris Davis’ seven year, $161 million contract is the worst in the history of the Baltimore Orioles. By the time it’s all said and done, it could be among the worst in Major League history.

Image credit: Nick Wass / AP

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

 

 

Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptures Achilles, projected to be out six months

BALTIMORE, MD — According to Ken Rosenthal, Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles while working out in California on Tuesday. The exact timetable for the injury will not be known until Britton undergoes surgery.

This is devastating news for the Orioles, who have recently shown serious interest in trading players for a big prospect return. Along with Manny Machado, Britton has garnered a lot of trade attention. This stems back to last year when the Orioles had come close to an agreement with the Houston Astros at the trade deadline but the deal was shot down at the last minute.

Everyone remembers Britton’s exceptional 2016 season where he completed 47 saves with an ERA of 0.54. His performance even earned him some Cy Young and MVP award votes at the end of the year. This made him a one of the most sought-after relievers in the league.

Trade deadlines in recent years have seen big name relievers, like Britton, get traded to playoff contenders for huge returns. That was almost the case for the O’s last year but Britton remained on the team as the deadline passed because the deal wasn’t up to the team’s standards.

In wake of this recent news, it’s easy to say that they should have pulled the trigger on that deal when they had the chance. However, we now know that what the Astros offered was not as good as the other blockbuster deals in recent years. In addition, no one should fault the team for wanting to try for a better return in 2018. We obviously cannot predict serious injuries, which makes this entire situation so unfortunate.

With Britton entering the last year of his contract, the O’s are now faced with a big problem. Even if a Machado deal is executed, the Orioles can’t afford to lose Britton for no return.

Image Credit: The Boston Globe

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