LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The trade talks involving Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will carry into the weekend, according to executive vice president Dan Duquette, eliminating the opportunity for immediate closure and the outpouring of sentimentality, outrage or whatever emotion sweeps over the fan base. It figures to be intense in nature.
The latest edition of the Winter Meetings have come to a conclusion and the Orioles leave the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort without making a significant move, which has become a December tradition. They didn’t get to the podium, extending their streak, but there wasn’t the anticipated flurry of moves throughout baseball. Little to no real accumulation.
The Orioles reached new heights in Rule 5 activity by selecting three players in the major league phase and one more in the minor league portion. And they provided some of the juiciest rumors and content with their willingness to deal Machado and left-hander Zach Britton.
“We’re going to do what we can to put together the best club we can and obviously there’s a lot of interest in our players on our roster who are going to be free agents,” Duquette said, “so we need to sort through the extent of that interest and see if a trade makes sense.”
The word “rebuild” continues to bring all the appeal of a head cold to the organization.
Though he declined to offer a specific count, Duquette said he’s having active discussions with “many clubs” and it’s known that the Cardinals and White Sox are two of the more serious suitors. The latter seemed to emerge as the frontrunner overnight according to various reports, but there are doubts within the industry that they’d be willing to part with pitchers Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech.
The rotation has three openings and depth is needed at the Triple-A level. The call to arms grows louder. It could shatter glass.
“We’re still looking for pitching for our major league club and left-handed hitting,” Duquette said. He also could have included a veteran catcher and utility player.
Relievers Mychal Givens and Brad Brach also drew heavy interest at the meetings. Givens is regarded as untouchable due to his production and low salary, the team’s control over him until 2022 and the possibility that he could become the closer.
“Clubs are focusing on our pitching depth and the players that are going to be free agents,” Duquette said, “so we’re listening.”
Any team that trades for Machado will have to be content with only one guaranteed year of his services. A 72-hour negotiating window isn’t expected to be part of the deal, which could remove certain clubs from pursuing him.
“I don’t see that as a viable option,’ Duquette said. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”
The Orioles approached the meetings with Duquette saying he expected Machado and Britton to be on the opening day roster. He stated it in numerous interviews while also noting their value to other clubs. But he gained a better sense of the market this week and it caused a dramatic shift, though some members of the organization dispute the idea that the Orioles are “shopping” the duo.
“We’re still going to try to have the most competitive team that we can have,” Duquette said, emphasizing again that the Orioles can contend in 2018. “We just felt it was prudent to see the extent of the interest in some of our players.”
Reporters with travel plans today wanted to make certain that they could board their flights without fear of missing out on a major transaction. It’s an annual paranoia that’s heightened by Machado’s tenuous status with the club.
“We’re going to leave here and take a look at what our options are back in Baltimore, so don’t expect us to be making a deal later today,” Duquette said.
“We’re still talking to other clubs about potential deals and we’ll follow up with them, probably a couple today, and we’ll follow up with them over the weekend.”
The Orioles’ first pick in the Rule 5 draft, left-hander Nestor Cortes, could be tossed into the rotation mix.
“Nestor Cortes is a very versatile left-handed pitcher,” Duquette said. “He’s got good breaking stuff, excellent control, very good competitor. His role model is Gio Gonzalez and he’s from South Florida, a very competitive environment. He did a nice job with the Yankees. He’s advanced. He pitched well at Double-A, he’s pitched well at Triple-A and we think he may be able to compete as a spot starter with the big league club
“This is a guy who has very good pitching instincts. He knows how to change speeds, he knows how to locate his pitches, he knows how to field his position and combat the running game. This kid has a lot of skills, very unique skills. Look at his record of success at every step of the way.
“The critics will say he doesn’t throw hard and that’s true. He is not a hard thrower. But he can do a lot of other things that count in getting the hitters out.”
A busy morning beyond Machado updates included the signing of right-hander Michael Kelly to a major league deal. He’s headed to Triple-A Norfolk.
“Kelly won 10 games in Double-A with the Padres and we see him as a good prospect to come up and support our major league staff,” Duquette said. “He has a good curve and good breaking stuff. He’s very durable over the course of his career and should be ready to do well at Triple-A and support the major league team. So we added a little bit more pitching depth today through the draft and signing some young pitching.
“Some of it we hope is ready to help our big league club when we start the season, but the other pitching we hope will be able to come up and support the club during the year.”