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Duquette: Orioles will continue to explore Machado trade market 'and see where it takes us'

The Orioles took meetings with multiple clubs Tuesday regarding the possibility of trading third baseman Manny Machado.

The club arrived at this year’s winter meetings hoping to find clarity on Machado’s long-term future with the team, and that’s already led them down the path of beginning to listen more intently to trade possibilities instead of seeking a long-term extension for Machado as he approaches free agency at the end of the season.

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Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Tuesday night that Machado still has plenty of value to the team’s 2018 roster, but also indicated the team is looking into its options.

The Orioles are becoming more inclined to deal Manny Machado.

“There’s a lot of interest in Manny and a couple of clubs requested a meeting so we met with a couple of clubs on that issue specifically and we’re going to continue to explore the market and see where it takes us,” Duquette said.

“I like Manny on our club. He’s a good player. He does a lot of things to help the club win. I think when you make a deal, you have to look at how that’s going to strengthen your club and the important thing when you make a deal is knowing what you’re going to give up and what you’re going to give back.”

The Orioles will be seeking at least two cost-controllable major league starters, which could be a reach considering that Machado is a one-year rental.

There is a provision that would allow a window for a potential trade partner to negotiate a long-term contract with a player before the deal goes through, but Duquette said that possibility with Machado hasn’t been discussed with any team.

Entering the final year of his contract, the manager says he feels "fortunate and lucky" to be in Baltimore.

“My experience with those is they don’t generally work out that well, but there’s a window that allows that under the basic agreement,” Duquette said.

Duquette’s comments Tuesday are a remarkable shift in the team’s mentality heading into the offseason.

The Orioles had been focused on reloading for another run at the postseason in 2018 before key players such as Machado, closer Zach Britton, center fielder Adam Jones and setup man Brad Brach reach free agency after next season and before Duquette and manager Buck Showalter complete the final year of their contracts.

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However, dealing a popular home-grown player such as Machado — especially without making a substantial attempt at extending him for the long term — would be a tough sell to a fan base energized by recent success but fearing a return to the dark ages of 14 straight losing seasons.

Orioles shortstop Tim Beckham learned Manny Machado wants to move to his position and could be traded while enjoying a morning with local school students at the OriolesREACH Holiday Party.

“I don’t know if we need to speculate about that,” Duquette said. “Manny is an Oriole. I really don’t think you need to speculate about that. If something happens and we have a trade, of course we’re going to address the issues. I’ve said all along this is an important year for the Orioles in a lot of different areas.”

The club is desperate for starting pitching to rebuild its rotation, needs balance to a feast-or-famine batting order and, while the farm system has experienced a renaissance, it is still in need of promising players who can make an impact beyond the next two years.

With or without Machado, Duquette still contends there’s only reloading — not rebuilding — in the American League East, even after the division-rival New York Yankees acquired reigning National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton last week after the Boston Red Sox made a big splash last offseason by trading for Cy Young Award runner-up Chris Sale.

The Orioles seem to be running out of options to improve their starting rotation for next season.

“We’re going to try to put the best on the field that we can put on the field and be as competitive as we can,” Duquette said. “That’s what we’ve always done.”

“I don’t see any other rebuilding in the American League East,” he added. “This is a tough division. They were talking about that Yankee trade today. The Yankees went out and got the NL MVP. The Red Sox went out and got a potential Cy Young Award winner last year. They trumped the market. They used their financial might and the depth of their minor league system to go out and get those marquee players, so I’m not sure we have the resources that those clubs have, but we can still do what we can do to compete against them.”

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