Orioles baseball operations chief Dan Duquette said this week that he would even consider dealing superstar third baseman Manny Machado to the rival New York Yankees.
That’s just crazy talk.
It’s one thing to make a deal with the Evil Empire for reliever Richard Bleier. It’s quite another to hand over one of the best all-around players in the game to a team that just acquired Giancarlo Stanton and already had overtaken the Orioles in the American League East without either one of them.
Does anyone really believe that Peter Angelos — who once gave Albert Belle $65 million just to keep the outfielder out of pinstripes — is going to give his blessing to a deal that would bring Machado back to Camden Yards every six weeks to remind fans that the Orioles were too cheap to keep him?
Give Duquette credit for leaving the door open to make sure there is a large market for Machado, but rest assured that the Orioles will keep him out of New York and Boston. That would be competitive suicide.
There are reports out of the baseball winter meetings that five teams have already telegraphed the intention to join the bidding for Machado, so the likelihood has certainly increased that he will be traded before spring training.
That’s the way to go if the deal is right and ownership is ready to concede that the Orioles are not willing to join in the free-agent bidding that could produce a record contract after the 2018 season.
There just one caveat: Are the Orioles capable of accurately evaluating the group of promising players they figure to command in return?
The front office doesn’t exactly have a terrific track record judging developmental pitching talent, as evidenced by the Parker Bridwell fail at the start of last season.
There’s always an element of chance in acquiring unproven players, but this is one deal the Orioles cannot afford to screw up.