A series of bad contracts, failed player development, pitching struggles, and Chris Davis have all brought the Baltimore Orioles to the bottom of the MLB standings. This trade deadline offers an opportunity to begin building for the future.
After yesterday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Baltimore Orioles are on pace to lose 117 games. Teams like the Orioles generally are rebuilding, but that wasn’t their plan. Instead, their recent moves put more bad contracts on their payroll. Furthermore, there isn’t much in their farm system either.
The one positive for the Orioles. It makes the trade deadline straightforward. Unlike teams stuck between buying and selling, the Orioles know they need to sell. While, Chris Davis and Alex Cobb‘s albatrosses cannot be traded, plenty should interest contenders.
The Cornerstone: Manny Machado
Machado is one of the best players in baseball. While his defense at shortstop has been questionable, he has a premium bat that fits into the middle of every lineup.
The Orioles have waited longer than they should have to trade Machado. He is a generational talent. But, the Orioles front-office has been convinced that they were on the cusp of contending for quite awhile. They weren’t.
Now Machado’s contract expires at the end of the season. If they don’t trade him now, they’ll have nothing, but a compensation pick to show for him.
Every contender has interest in Machado, but not at any cost. Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs tried to find a precedent for a Machado trade. Sullivan noted the Yoenis Cespedes trade as the best comparison. Machado is younger, and a better player, than Cespedes was at the time of his trade. However, they were both big bats set for free-agency.
The O’s have been asking for an arm and a leg from interested teams. No one is interested in emptying their system for a player who will cost at least $400m in just a few months.
Using Cespedes as a gauge, a top 75 prospect in baseball and an additional piece that will rank in the system’s top 20 a reasonable return.
A number of teams have already made offers. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Brewers, Yankees, and Dodgers have “separated themselves from the pack.”
The Yankees have a deep system with a number of intriguing prospects, but the Orioles have zeroed in on southpaw Justus Sheffield and the Bronx Bombers have yet to include him in an offer.
The recent reports have left the Dodgers behind, but don’t count them out. The Dodgers still have a deep farm system and have shown the ability to close blockbuster deals right at the deadline.
The Yankees are the current favorites, but the Dodgers are my favorite to bring Machado west.