LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Part of the debate over the wisdom of trading third baseman Manny Machado, and it’s been a dominant topic as the Winter Meetings move into their third day, is whether he’d net a more bountiful return at the non-waiver deadline.
While surface logic says that a greater number of prospects are made available with Machado under team control for a full season, contenders tend to get desperate around July 31 and more easily sell their souls - or part with young impact talent - in order to win a World Series.
The latter point is accompanied by reminders of the Yankees’ 2016 trade of closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and set-up man Andrew Miller to the Indians six days later.
I’ve heard arguments on both sides in the lobby of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort - you can tell that it isn’t the Swan Resort because of the huge concrete dolphin on top of the building, across from the one with the swan - and I’m torn in my endorsement. Either way, we can agree that Machado’s value was higher over the summer, but parting with him is a gut-wrenching decision for an organization that values and embraces his skill set.
Manny Machados don’t drop in your lap every day. He’s a unique talent. The Platinum Glove is one clue. The endless stream of highlights is another. “SportsCenter” could devote entire segments to his work at third base. The comparisons to Brooks Robinson aren’t just hyperbole.
He’s one of the most talented players to pass through Baltimore in franchise history. Of course, it’s going to hurt to part with him, no matter the odds against signing him to an extension. No matter the desperate need for young, controllable pitching.
Conceding the division and the season stings like a thousand hornets. And no matter how badly executive vice president Dan Duquette wants to avoid using the word “rebuild,” dancing around it like his suite has turned into a ballroom, you can’t surrender Machado and perhaps closer Zach Britton and still insist that you’re “all in.”
I keep trying to take the temperature of the fan base, grateful that it’s an oral thermometer, and more people seem to be in favor of trading Machado and Britton. The sentimental set will shed a few tears. I’m sure some people will threaten to burn their season tickets and stay home, as they vowed to do if Chris Davis wasn’t re-signed (and now complain about his seven-year, $161 million contract). But my portion of the social media world is inundated with fans who think the trades should have happened sooner and most definitely should be completed before opening day.
To do otherwise is front office malpractice, a term also thrown around quite a bit yesterday with further confirmation that the Orioles haven’t approached Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, about an extension in more than two years. But that’s another vent for another time.
Keep an eye on the Cardinals in the Machado trade talks. They still seem like the ideal match, since the Phillies are more inclined to wait until Machado is a free agent to throw buckets of cash at him.
(Picture Meadowlark Lemon with confetti, only this paper will have the faces of dead presidents on it.)
As I’ve written, the Phillies would want a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension with Machado before completing a trade. No reason for his side to resist the discussion, even if it’s likely to decline. Never hurts to listen. What’s the downside?
Meanwhile, agent Scott Boras will hold his annual lobby presser later this morning before the managers’ luncheon. We’ll be fed twice, if you know what I mean.
It’s quite a scene and I wish everyone could experience it at least once, with the media descending upon Boras like hungry seagulls. He’s going to tout Jake Arrieta as the finest pitcher in history and suggest that the Cy Young Award be renamed in his honor. The binders on Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez will require a hand truck.
The Orioles aren’t in play for anyone in the above group, but Britton’s name may come up in response to the trade speculation.
I could ask about Pedro Álvarez and whether another March reunion is in the works. And whether he’s trying another new position after the failed outfield experiment. The Orioles do need a left-handed bat or two.