The Orioles left baseball’s winter meetings Thursday in a much different place from when they arrived, with several trade offers in hand for Manny Machado, but were in no rush to deal the superstar third baseman as they departed the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
The team realizes the return for Machado absolutely must position it for a promising future, that to move the club’s most talented player of this generation, it must stabilize a cloudy long-term forecast for the franchise, even though Machado would be just a one-year rental for the team acquiring him.
“We’re talking to other clubs about potential deals and we’ll follow up with them probably a couple today and then we’ll follow up with them over the weekend,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said after the meetings officially wrapped up following Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
“We’re going to do what we can to put together the best club we can, and obviously there’s a lot of interest in the players on our roster who are going to be free agents, so we need to sort through the extent of that interest and see if a trade makes sense.”
Besides Machado, the Orioles are seeking starting pitching and a left-handed bat. They could also move closer Zach Britton or setup man Brad Brach, who are also both eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. And Duquette could benefit from a market that is placing high value on relief pitching as a number of noncloser relievers received lucrative multiyear deals this week.
“Clubs are focusing on our pitching depth and the players that are going to become free agents, so we’re listening,” Duquette said. “We’re still going to try to have the most competitive team we can have. We just felt it was prudent to see the extent of the interest in some of our players.”
In regard to Machado, one major obstacle in receiving the haul necessary to move him is that he would go to a team for just one year. Duquette said Thursday that he doesn’t see offering a potential trade partner a 72-hour window to negotiate a long-term extension with Machado as a “viable option.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, personally,” Duquette said. Asked whether a team has asked for a negotiating window in trade talks, Duquette said, “No, not really.”
Even if that window were given to a team, there’s nothing to indicate Machado or his representatives would be willing to bypass his opportunity to go on the free-agent market this time next year at the age of 26 with the opportunity to net a contract that surpasses the record $325 million deal given to Giancarlo Stanton.
So Duquette will weigh all options, including offers from division rivals even though a deal with one of them would likely throw the team’s fan base into a frenzy. The Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams that have reportedly made strong offers.
The White Sox seem to be a good fit for the Orioles because they have some of the best major league-ready starting pitching prospects in the game, led by right-handers Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito. Though it wasn’t known whether those prospects would be included in the White Sox’s package, the Chicago Tribune reported that a source said they gave the Orioles an “impressive offer.”
The Orioles front office will return to Baltimore to deliberate a franchise-altering move. Included in any discussion is getting approval from ownership, which has often been wary of making a move of this magnitude because of the optics.
“We have some uniquely talented players on our roster that are going to become free agents, so [there are] some big decisions for the organization to make, important decisions,” Duquette said Thursday.
Duquette isn’t in a hurry to make a decision regarding Machado, but he’s indicated it’s a call that should be made by the end of the month.
“We’re going to leave here and then take a look at what our options are back in Baltimore,” Duquette said Thursday. “So don’t expect us to make a deal later today.”