Machado trade unlikely as Duquette says Orioles are shifting focus to other priorities

It's been a week since the Orioles set baseball's winter meetings ablaze with their newfound willingness to discuss a trade of third baseman Manny Machado, the team's once-in-a-generation talent who is one year from free agency.

But the offers have not been sufficient, and the Orioles likely will not trade Machado. They will instead look to find much-needed starting pitching through other avenues.


"The team has some other priorities," executive vice president Dan Duquette said Thursday night. "We need to focus on some of the ways that we can add to the ballclub."

When the idea of trading Machado, a three-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, picked up steam, the Orioles hoped that a deal would yield a pair of young, major league-ready starting pitchers the club could pair with returning starters Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.

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Despite a flurry of reported interest last week at the winter meetings in Florida, the offers never met the level the Orioles hoped they would reach. Such a trade would not have been without precedent, with the Atlanta Braves' 2015 trade of outfielder Jason Heyward providing a recent benchmark.

Heyward was dealt a year from free agency for a package that included one young established major league starter — Shelby Miller — plus touted prospect Tyrell Jenkins. Heyward had been worth 21.6 wins above replacement (a stat known as WAR that shows how much better a player is than his potential replacement) through his age-24 season, according to FanGraphs, with much of his value tied up in his elite defense.

Machado, by comparison, has been worth 26.1 WAR through his own age-24 season, with three years above six.

That deal seemingly set a baseline that the club hasn't deemed to be met, so the Orioles go forth into the new year requiring multiple starting pitchers from a market that was mined early for short-term value — with the likes of Doug Fister, Tyler Chatwood, Miles Mikolas and Mike Fiers signing early.

“I think they’re more than capable. Brach can do it and Givens has come into his own. Whether I’m there halfway through the year or on another team, they’re going to be just fine."

That leaves a top tier that includes Yu Darvish and former Oriole Jake Arrieta, plus a second tier that includes Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb waiting for contracts as the pitching market has slowed.

This week's injury of left-hander Zach Britton, who ruptured his Achilles tendon while training in California and had successful surgery Thursday, adds the need for a power left-hander out of the bullpen.

There's also the problem of Machado's future, with his pending free agency and the emergence of his desire to move back to his natural position of shortstop now that veteran J.J. Hardy is no longer with the club.

Duquette has been adamant that the club already has its shortstop of the future in Tim Beckham, who enjoyed a phenomenal August after being acquired July 31, then ended the season in a swoon.

USA Today reported Thursday afternoon that the Orioles expected to hang on to Machado, unless offers improved.

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