As the nonwaiver trade deadline approaches in less than five weeks, interest in Orioles shortstop Manny Machado has picked up, setting the stage for a whirlwind month for the team’s future.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Wednesday that the club is receiving more interest in Machado than when the Orioles publicly shopped him this past offseason.
This will be a critical month for the Orioles, who are buried in the American League East and could move to deal some of their pending free agents such as Machado, center fielder Adam Jones, closer Zach Britton and reliever Brad Brach.
Machado is unquestionably the team’s biggest trade piece. And over the winter, the Orioles received more than a half-dozen offers for Machado, including at least two that were under serious consideration.
Asked whether the Orioles’ asking price for Machado has changed since the winter — when they were looking for multiple young controllable pitchers — Duquette said: “We’re looking to add the best young players we can get for our organization. We were trying to do that in the wintertime but it’s a more defined market this time.”
The Orioles could deal Machado any day, but have yet to make any deals that move toward a rebuild. Moving Machado sooner than later would not only give a trade partner Machado for a longer time this season, but save the Orioles around $2.67 million in salary that could be utilized elsewhere in the team’s rebuild.
Still, it appears that the Orioles aren’t close to moving Machado, and appear ready to see if they can garner a more sizable haul once contenders become more clearly identified.
While Machado has expressed his desire to remain at shortstop, Duquette indicated there’s been interest from teams who want Machado as a shortstop and some who need him to be a third baseman.
The Orioles have yet to approach Jones about whether he will approve a trade to another club. As a veteran player with 10 years of service time, including at least five with his current team, Jones can decide whether to approve any trade.
“Teams know that we’re not in the race for this year’s playoffs, so they know we’ve declared as sellers,” Duquette said. “Once you declare as a seller, the teams that are looking to add can come and take a look at your club to see what they can find to help their ballclub the rest of the way.”
Regarding Britton, who has pitched just 6 2/3 innings and has a 5.40 ERA entering Wednesday since returning two weeks ago from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, Duquette said he will benefit from pitching more to boost his trade stock.
“I think Zach needs to pitch a little bit,” Duquette said. “He didn’t have the benefit of a spring training period, so I think he needs to pitch a little bit so clubs can take a look at him for him to be that guy who pitched at that previous high level.”