11 December 2017

Pick One, Orioles: Trade Manny Machado Now Or Pay For Pitching

Last January, Jon did an excellent job of framing the Orioles' dilemma with Manny Machado and laying out the difficulties and possibilities. Of course, we know the O's have held on to Machado and now have him under control for just one more season, and that they're unlikely to sign him to an extension.

The Orioles have gotten off to a slow start this offseason to address their needs, and there's nothing surprising about that. Under Dan Duquette, the O's typically wait out the market while they search for potential bargains and players they feel have slipped through the cracks. Sometimes it works, and it seems to fit how O's ownership operates.

There are a few differences between the team's situation now and previous years, though. The O's clear weakness is starting pitching, and they currently only have two starting pitchers they can rely on for 2018: Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. There's nothing new about this deficiency, and there was no question that the Orioles absolutely, positively had to address this to have any chance to compete for a playoff spot in the upcoming season.

There's also the matter of the team's impending free agents. It's not just Machado, whose probable departure would be stressful enough on its own. There's also Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach who could be on the way out of Baltimore. Again, none of this is a new development. Duquette talked a couple months ago about the team's need to reload, not retool. Considering the weight of the roster decisions, then, you'd figure that would lead to some sense of urgency. It hasn't.

It's almost mid-December, and the O's haven't done anything to address the rotation. Tyler Chatwood seemed like a sensible target, and he signed with the Cubs on Thursday for three years and $38 million. The Cubs, apparently on a mission to destroy O's fans' dreams, also have strong interest in Alex Cobb to complete their rotation. There are other free agent pitchers out there who the Orioles could pursue -- Lance Lynn, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Vargas, Jaime Garcia, Andrew Cashner, CC Sabathia, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, and others -- but Cobb and Chatwood are two of the better choices after the top two options in Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, who the O's will avoid because they're going to command lots of money and plenty of years.

You're already hearing some of the same, old things from years past: that the O's "had interest" when someone signs with another team (Chatwood, Mike Fiers), and now that improving the rotation is going to be a challenge. This is the problem when the O's version of going "all in" is more or less the same way they operate in a typical offseason. How can you reload if you're going to sit out while the best starters go elsewhere? The O's don't just need to add a fifth starter or some maybe underappreciated, low-tier pitching option. They need multiple accomplished starters.

If the Orioles are not going to do everything possible to upgrade the starting rotation, including outbidding other teams for desired players, then why hold on to Machado, Britton, and others and pretend like they have any real chance to compete? The Yankees just added the reigning NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton. The O's won't even pay for three or four years of Tyler Chatwood. Considering the full picture, why would anyone think this is going to end well?

The Orioles are not going to pay what it takes to keep Machado. It would be painful, but if they trade him right now, at the very least the O's could get a few valuable prospects in return. Machado is currently healthy and will be in demand for some team. The same goes for Britton, Jones, and Brach, just to a lesser extent. Don't want to trade Britton and hope that he re-establishes his trade value enough to deal at the trade deadline? Sure, whatever. The others have value, but Machado is the big piece.

One problem with this whole thing is the O's can't be trusted to rebuild in any meaningful way. A fire sale is not the organization's style under Peter Angelos. But besides that, they're not going to reverse course and start spending in the international market. They're not going to tear everything down in an effort to correct whatever has been wrong with their pitcher prospect development for years. And they're not going to get the most out of whatever promising pitchers are currently in the lower levels of their system. In that sense, maybe you can see why the O's would be stubborn and just roll the dice one more time. But how in the world can you expect to tangle with the rest of the AL East and come out on top when you're not going to give Bundy and Gausman some major help?

Scared of signing the next Ubaldo Jimenez? Not going to pay what real starter upgrades cost? Planning to count on Miguel Castro, Gabriel Ynoa, or Mike Wright to be meaningful rotation contributors? Trade Machado and co. right now and jump-start a possible rebuild. The Orioles had a wonderful run under Buck Showalter and Duquette, and it was a lot of fun. But those two might not even be in Baltimore after next season. It's time to stop punting and make some real decisions.


Anonymous said...

WHy do you think the Orioles have such a low probability of signing Machado? When it comes to the O's franchise players, they have always signed them to at least one long term contract. Jones, Davis, Ripken, et al. - multiple examples of the O's signing players to extensions. Further, the Stanton deal proves that, just because you sign the big star to a big contract doesn't mean you have to pay him the whole thing. You think Machado won't be a trade chip after he's signed - even if he gets a no trade clause? When they had the faux GM meetings earlier this month, the first thing the O's faux GM did was sign Machado. She did that and added the right players in areas of need. Seemed like a good model for what DD should do. Especially if he waits out the market, wouldn't that be a good time to talk extension? Honestly, extending Machado does not reduce the O's flexibility all that much. I really think all this "all or nothing" talk is pure defeatism. I hope guys like Angelos don't buy into it.

Jon Shepherd said...

Read this article and the one I wrote last January. Why now would a premier free agent want to sign with the Orioles?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Do you know why? Because the GM is saying stuff like this: https://twitter.com/Jim_Duquette/status/940007870636150787

The Orioles don't operate like the Marlins (thankfully). They really haven't approached any talks with Machado like they have any realistic shot at keeping him. Could they pay him? Sure. That doesn't mean they will, and I don't think they will.

And yes, they kept Jones and Davis, etc. Machado is looking at a contract maybe twice what Davis is being paid. Whether it's a deal that could be moved in the future or not, that's still a massive financial commitment. Besides, the O's have previously stated that opt-outs are not something they'll offer, making any potential long-term deal with Machado nearly impossible.

Pip said...

Roger, what have you seen in the past that indicates the Orioles are interested in giving Manny $400 million?
Every single big contract aside from Jones and perhaps Hardy, has been a hopeless disaster. Chen worked out great, but his contract was very small.
They won't extend Manny because they don't. And frankly I think not even the risen Savior is worth $400 million. They won't because they shouldn't.
Trading him now would be the best plan of action, my only hope is that he goes to someplace like the Phillies. It would be very painful to see him with the Yankees.

Pip said...

Although I agree with you completely, if they call "opt-outs" "player options" then they are certainly open to those.
Two different things, according to Dan.

dpsmith22 said...

Sadly Duquette didn't have the foresight to alter the need for 3 starters, BEFORE the off-season. It's the same story with him every year. He says pitching is expensive, pitching is tough to come by. Knowing this and expecting to compete, how could you possibly let your club need 3-5 starters, going into the off-season?

This is, just like going into 17' with no rotation upgrades, INCOMPETENCE.

I am certain PA is concerned about getting another Ubaldo/Miley/Gallardo. After all, Duquette's track record in acquiring starters has been poor.

A trade of Machado/O'Day/Trumbum/Britton, is necessary or another long losing streak could be upon us.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I'm not sure how you read the entire post above and then see fit to just bash Duquette. There is no question that he deserves criticism. But do you think it's easy to add starting pitchers working with these organizational constraints? Do you see why a bunch of GM candidates turned the Orioles down before Duquette was hired? That doesn't excuse poor player development, incompetent player evaluation, and whatever else you want to include. All I'm saying is that it would be extremely difficult for any GM working in this situation to add any starting rotation upgrades if ownership isn't going to pay for them (or going to give up after trying and failing with Ubaldo).

Pip said...

Matt, although I agree with you that Dan doesn't shoulder all the blame, if the FO is genuinely penurious, why did they allow the signing of Gallardo and Ubaldo? I understand that PA was directly behind the Davis contract, but that can't be a sign of cheapness.
And if money is really the issue, why Trade away two draft picks and surrender multiple others to spend lots of money?
The moves are too contradictory to support the claim that ownership is cheap.

Pip said...

PS, and although it is true that no one wanted to work with PA, it is equally true that no one wanted to hire Dan.
A match made somewhere...

Matt Kremnitzer said...

It's not about being cheap. The Orioles will spend money, but they are incredibly risk averse. I don't know what made them sign Ubaldo and have him be the one to give four years to. At the time it looked OK, but it obviously looks bad now. It did not work.

I'm not really following the rest of your comment. I think Duquette is an average GM. But there are deeper issues here.

Pip said...

The point is that the problem is not being cheap. The problem is using very bad judgment when deciding whether to spend and what to spend on.
Because those choices are so contradictory, it is unlikely that they are coming from the front office, because the FO would be consistent regarding spending.
it's more likely to be Dan's decision. Signing Ubaldo was bad at the time. Signing Gallardo was bad at the time. Waiting until January to sign anyone is bad, but that's what Dan does every year. Every year.
It is impossible that waiting until everyone worth having is gone is a command from On High.
Doing nothing last offseason to add a worthwhile pitcher can't possibly be an ownership directive. Signing Alvarez instead of a competent outfielder, releasing Gonzo when he had an option remaining, and many another decision can't possibly be on any shoulders but Dan's.
I think you're giving Dan too much of a pass.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

You've made that clear in lots of other comments about Duquette. I get it, and I disagree. And that's fine.

Amoussou said...

Can you guys speculate on a potential trade for Machado. And perhaps what kind of haul for Britton/Brach/trumbo could garner?

Jon Shepherd said...

Machado...Crawford/Sanchez/and maybe Kingery
Britton...maybe Maeda or even Urias now.
Brach...maybe Matter.
Trumbo...name your fringe 40 man roster pitcher.

Pip said...

I appreciate that. I actually make it clear in every comment I make about Dan. My reply here was because you said you didn't get my point.
I think my point is completely valid, BTW. I appreciate your thoughts very much but you've never refuted it.

vilnius b. said...

What about the Cardinals as a trade partner for Machado? They clearly wanted Stanton, but his no-trade clause nixed that deal.
Does this sound wholly improbable: Machado to the Cards for Flaherty (their top rated prospect pitcher), and either Harrison Bader or M. Sierra?
I know Carpenter is there current projected starting 3B, but they could move him back to first, where's he played before.
And to open extra salary room for Machado---assuming of course that they can sign Manny to a contract extension---the O's might offer to relieve the Cards of two veterans like either Gyorko or Jose Martinez. Gyorko could be a useful trade piece at the trade deadline for more prospects. Injuries will happen to contending teams.
At a projected payroll of 139 million for the coming season, if the Cards backloaded the deal and maybe even allowed an opt out clause after 3 years, they could afford to pay him the kind of money that MM could command on the FA market.

vilnius b. said...

Sorry for the typo: sub their for there. Medication time for me.

Jon Shepherd said...

Maybe. Machado really is a centerpiece player, so someone has to believe.

Amoussou said...

Pie in the sky scenario:

Machado for Crawford, Kingery and Sanchez
Britton for Senzatela
Brach for Miller
Schoop for Nola (Schoop and Manny inseparable)