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Discussion On The Machado Trade Talk – View From The Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In most years, the Orioles’ biggest news during the Winter Meetings has come in the Rule 5 Draft when president of baseball operations Dan Duquette shows his proclivity for trying to find bargains among players left unprotected by other teams.

Indeed, the Orioles drafted three such players Thursday as the Meetings concluded at the Walt Disney World Resorts.

However, the Orioles generated some of the biggest headlines of the four-day event with a move they didn’t make. Or at least haven’t made yet.

The Orioles let it be known that Manny Machado is available in trade as the three-time All-Star third baseman is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the next season.

Would the Orioles trade a 26-year-old star who has yet to seemingly yet to reach his prime? It could happen but five executives and scouts who were polled during the meetings believe Duquette might not receive as much of a return as one might expect for a player of Machado’s caliber.

The biggest reason is that the Orioles are refusing to give teams a 72-hour window to work out a potential long-term contract extension with Machado. Thus, anyone trading for Machado would only be assured of having him for the 2018 season.

The Orioles want two cost-controlled pitchers they can move into the starting rotation with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman as well as a third baseman to replace Machado.

“I know what the Orioles are looking for,” said an executive from a team who talked with Baltimore this week. “It’s going to be hard to meet their asking price for a one-year rental, even a player as great as Manny. The only teams I see that realistically might take the plunge are ones ready to win now and meeting the ask is still going to be tough.”

At least seven teams have had discussions with the Orioles, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.

Though the White Sox have been reported by some outlets to have made a strong offer, it seems hard to imagine they would give up enough in a trade to land Machado considering the organization is in the second season into a major rebuild.

Meanwhile, the rebuilding Phillies believe 2019 is a more realistic scenario for contention. A team source said they would prefer to pursue Machado in free agency next winter than trade for him now.

“Why give up some of our best young players when we don’t need to?” the source said.

The Red Sox and Yankees can both be crossed off the list because Orioles owner Peter Angelos has made it clear to Duquette that he does not want Machado traded within the American League East. While the Orioles are saying publicly that they are not averse to dealing Machado, it is strictly to make other suitors believe they are more teams in the mix.

The Giants don’t seem to have enough talent to get a deal done. An offer of left-hander Ty Blach, right-hander Chris Stratton and third baseman Christian Arroyo isn’t likely going to be good enough to entice the Orioles.

The Diamondbacks, though, could pique Duquette’s interest with an offer of left-hander Patrick Corbin and third baseman Jake Lamb. Corbin was 14-13 with a 4.03 last season. Though Corbin is eligible for free agency after the 2018, Lamb has three years of club control remaining after belting a combined 59 home runs over the last two seasons with a .248/.345/.498 slash line.

Yet what would hamper the Diamondbacks’ effort to land Machado is the lack of rotation depth to include a second controllable starter in a potential deal.

In the end, the Cardinals match up with the Orioles better than any team. They have a pair of young right-handers in 24-year-old Luke Weaver and 22-year-old Jack Flaherty who would be ready to step into the Orioles rotation along with Jedd Gyorko, who would take Machado’s place at the hot corner after hitting a combined 50 home runs with .258/.324/.482 slash line in the last two seasons.

Weaver and Flaherty are controllable through 2023 and Gyorko is signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020.

St. Louis wants to get back to the postseason after missing out the last two seasons. They took a big step toward trying to catch the two-time defending National League Central champion Chicago Cubs this week by trading for Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna and signing free agent reliever Luke Gregerson.

The Cardinals say they aren’t done making moves. Though he would not talk about any players specifically because of Major League Baseball’s tampering rules, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny sounded like a man whose team might be willing to pay the Orioles’ high asking price for one season of Machado.

“When you’re letting go of cost controlled assets to bring somebody in for a year, you’re not seeing — oftentimes, your team is leaning in that direction when you can go in the other, and I get that,” Matheny said. “Just trying to understand the economics and the long-term view of not just our organization, but how the rest of the game is seen, how their budgetary restraints and trying to keep control of players as long as they can.

“I get that, and I see the value, but every once in a while, I think too you open up that door. Can we bring this guy in? What do we got to do to try to maybe sign him up for a long-term deal? So, all those things are always on the table.”

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John Perrotto

John Perrotto has been a professional sports writer since 1982 and has covered a multitude of sports, including MLB, NFL and college football and basketball. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers' Association since 1988, a Hall of Fame voter since 1997 and has covered 21 World Series and two Super Bowls. He is a graduate of Geneva College, the birthplace of college basketball, and lives in Beaver Falls, Pa,., the hometown of Joe Willie Namath.

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