The Baltimore Orioles Hot Stove season will be all about signing starting pitchers.
But, on the backburner sits the fate of the Baltimore Orioles biggest asset: Manny Machado.
No matter what happens in the off-season with pitchers and any position players that the O’s pick up, Machado’s fate with the team looms large.
Will he stay? Or will he go?
According to Roch Kubatko with MASNSports.com, Machado is on his way out. So, fans had better enjoy the fun while it lasts. In his blog School of Roch, he is predicting that the O’s will not be able to afford him.
Setting the bar high this off-season
With players like J.D. Martinez asking for contracts in the $200 million range, the odds are good that Machado will do the same. Martinez most likely won’t get exactly what he’s asking for, considering that he is 30 and his defense isn’t as good as his offense.
But, Machado is about as complete a player there is. His offense is solid, as he’s hit over 30 home runs in the previous three seasons. His career on-base percentage is .329 and he can actually steal a base.
Then there is his defense. Machado is consistently in the running for Gold Glove Awards and he already has the coveted Platinum Glove on his shelf. Add to that his youth (he’s only 26) and he’s a player that could rake in the money in 2019.
Hot corner or shortstop
In 2017, Machado made $11 million and he will see a salary around $17 million in 2018. But, in 2019 offseason, the bidding war will begin. According to Kubatko, Machado will be looking for a team that will let him play shortstop. The only issue for Machado is the rest of the 2019 free agent class. If Bryce Harper weren’t a part of the 2019 class, Machado would be the top dog. Because Harper, Machado might not get as much – or it could go the other way around depending on who has a better 2018 season. The Beltway could see some incredible baseball played by these two men in a few months.
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Orioles 2019 commitments
When the Orioles enter the 2019 off-season, their salary commitments could be minimal. The team will owe Chris Davis $21 million, Mark Trumbo $13.5 million, and Darren O’Day will get $9 million. After that, the rest of money will go to several players who will be in arbitration and to the players who will be signed in this off-season (if they are multi-year deals).
If Dan Duquette can wisely sign pitchers this off-season, then there could be money to spend on Machado. But, the question remains as to whether or not Machado would want to stay in Baltimore. If it is dependent on being able to play shortstop, then the opportunity could arise in the 2018 season. With J.J. Hardy no longer on the team and Tim Beckham‘s defense not quite as good as Machado’s, there could be a small battle for the position during spring training. But, if Machado wants to play short, the O’s are without a third baseman…unless Trey Mancini could do it? Or Jonathan Schoop?
As this off-season progresses and the epic 2019 off-season looms large in the future, Orioles fans might as well enjoy what they have, while they have it. Machado is truly a generational, franchise player – and at only 26 years old, he has so much more to come. His walk year could be more than exceptional and will give fans quite a show in what could be his final season in Baltimore.