Duquette on Machado trade talks (Wilkerson suspended)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette met with multiple teams today regarding possible trades involving third baseman Manny Machado. Whether a deal is consummated remains an uncertainty, with Duquette clearly open to the idea but also trumpeting Machado’s value to the organization.

Buckle up.

“There’s a lot of interest in Manny and a couple of clubs requested a meeting, so we met with a couple of clubs on that issue,” Duquette said inside his suite at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. “We’re going to continue to explore the market and see where it takes us.”

Closer Zach Britton also is drawing significant interest. Did something change for Duquette in the last few days that made him more open to trades?

“Well, I think we’ve got a better gauge about the market for some of our players,” he said. “There seems to be significant interest. So we just have a better idea of what the market is.”

And a dire need for quality pitching, which is more easily obtained on the trade front.

“The market is thin on pitching,” Duquette said. “I guess you could say that it’s particularly thin because there are so many clubs looking for starting pitching. But it’s generally a good idea to have an idea, to know what the value of the market is for your team.

“I like Manny on our club. He’s a good player, he does a lot of things to help the club win. I think when you make a deal, you’ve got to look at how that strengthens your club. And the important thing when you make a deal is knowing what you are going to give up and what you’re going to get back.”

Manny-Machado-arms-open-black-sidebar.jpgDuquette said no clubs have requested a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension with Machado before agreeing to a trade - which tells me that talks haven’t advanced.

“They have a provision where you can allow a period of time for a potential trade to work out a new contractual agreement,” he said. “Most trades are made and the buyer will take the contract. In some cases they allow the new team to try to work out a deal with the player. My experience with those is they don’t generally work out that well, but there’s a window that allows that in the basic agreement.”

The Orioles haven’t made any recent attempts to negotiate an extension with Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group.

“I’ve talked to Machado’s agent periodically. We have not explored a long-term agreement with Manny since we tried a couple of years ago,” Duquette said.

“That’s obviously a big decision for the Orioles organization and that’s one that, it’s still under consideration.”

Duquette never used the word “rebuild” today, no matter how many times it was teed up.

“We’re going to try to put the best team on the field that we can put on the field and be as competitive as we can. That’s what we’ve always done,” he said.

“I don’t see any other rebuilding in the American League East. This is a tough division. They were talking about that Yankee trade today (for Giancarlo Stanton). The Yankees went out and got the NL MVP. The Red Sox went out and got a potential Cy Young winner (Chris Sale) last year. They trump the market, they use their financial might and the depth of their minor league systems to go out and get those marquee players, so I’m not sure we have the resources that those clubs have. We can still do what we can do to compete against them.”

The organization is conducting a balancing act, with the possibility of surrendering Machado and Britton in trades, and also knowing how much is riding on the 2018 season, especially with Duquette and manager Buck Showalter in the final year of their contracts. The same holds for center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Brach.

“I think it’s an important year for the Orioles in a lot of different aspects and we’ve had a very competitive team and we’ve had a contending team that’s been able to make the playoffs,” Duquette said. “Our challenge is significant. No doubt about that. But if we can add the right pitching and make the right move and we can get our team to gel, we can still compete.

“The pennant’s not won in December, the playoff spots aren’t defined either in December. Yeah, we have a lot of work to do, right? The rich got richer. Some of the teams in our division have gotten better. We haven’t completed our offseason work, but we are in process.”

Duquette didn’t want to go too far down the road and talk about fan reaction to a Machado trade and the message sent.

“I don’t know that we need to speculate about that,” he said. “Manny’s an Oriole. I really don’t think you need to speculate about something like that. If something happens, and we have a trade, of course we’re going address the issues. I’ve said all along, this is an important year for the Orioles in a lot of different areas.”

Odds weren’t placed on Machado running down the orange carpet on opening day. The situation is so fluid at the moment. The Cardinals, Phillies, Yankees and White Sox are among the teams showing interest, according to sources or reports.

“Let’s see how things develop,” Duquette said. “As I said, Manny’s got a lot of value for our club.”

Britton’s value isn’t at its peak following two trips to the disabled list this summer and a drop in production, but there’s action on him, as well, as the Winter Meetings proceed through a second day.

“Well, I mean, we have a number of players in the last year of their deal,” Duquette said. “Britton was one of the best pitchers in the league in ‘16, didn’t have as great of a year in ‘17 as he did in ‘16 because he was stalled by some injuries, starting in the spring. But he’s one of the elite relievers.

“I mean, he’s a left-handed power reliever, very uniquely skilled player, so there should be a lot of interest in him.”

Mychal Givens also fits in that category, but the Orioles aren’t as willing to include him in trade discussions.

“Givens is one of the top relievers in terms of strikeouts. He’s one of the top strikeout relievers in the league. And he’s young and he’s been healthy, so clubs are always looking for that kind of player,” Duquette said.

“Mychal’s had a couple good consecutive years with the club. He gives us pretty good depth in the bullpen.”

Note: Double-A Bowie infielder Steve Wilkerson has been suspended 50 games without pay following a positive test for an amphetamine. The suspension starts at the beginning of the 2018 season.

Talk about horrible timing.

Wilkerson was named to the Arizona Fall League’s Top Prospects Team after batting .317 with three doubles, a league-leading five triples, one home run, 10 RBIs and two stolen bases for the Salt River Rafters, and he had a shot at breaking camp next spring as the utility player, though he needs more work at shortstop. He was left off the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft.

Duquette mentioned today that the Orioles also are in the market for another utility infielder.

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