The debate between patient rebuild and aggressive reload

With such a large gathering in our blog community, it’s impossible to get everyone in agreement on most topics. And it’s a good thing because the varying opinions lead to some terrific debates. Especially the civil ones.

Certain players on the free agent market have their supporters and detractors. The same goes for manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette.

machado-gray-big-swing-side.jpgSome fans endorse a full rebuild going into the 2018 season, conceding that the club won’t re-sign Manny Machado, Zach Britton or Adam Jones. Trade them now and stock up on prospects. It already should have happened, but it’s not too late to get something substantial in return.

Other fans are convinced that the Orioles should be all-in and make another run at a championship while Machado, Britton and Jones remain in the fold. Improve the rotation at whatever cost. Concede nothing. Similar to the Royals’ approach that allowed them to win a World Series before Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas hit the market.

Here’s the part where I find us in agreement, based on the comments posted and my own feelings on the subject:

Middle ground is a mistake. It’s bad property. A sinkhole that leads to last place.

You can’t hold onto these players and only tweak the rotation with cost-efficient fill-ins and think a division title is within reach, especially with the Yankees and Red Sox back in beast mode. Anything can happen, but it seems like spinning wheels in the mud and expecting to lunge forward.

The chance to get maximum value for the pending free agents may have passed - the whole rental status thing - but the return still could be substantial for a team that needs to build up its stock of young talent. And you’d have to be tone deaf to miss how many fans are accepting, if not demanding, that the Orioles go in this direction. It’s not a hugely unpopular course of action.

If the Orioles insist on holding onto the biggest trade chips among their pending free agents, they might have to move beyond their financial comfort zone to obtain the necessary pitching. I’m not referring to Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. It’s the potential cost for the likes of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.

They also must scour the trade market and be less reluctant to part with certain prospects if it nets them a difference-maker for the rotation. Again, this is going for it, this is being all-in in 2018.

The Orioles are counting on Hunter Harvey eventually joining Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy to secure three-fifths of the rotation. Perhaps later this summer. It’s a “grow the arms” dream come true, exactly how they insist that it must be done in Baltimore. Farm to table.

In the meantime, they require a substantial upgrade for the upper portion of the rotation. They can fill another spot with someone like Jason Vargas, a needed left-hander, or anyone else from the middle-tier pile. Tyler Chatwood, Miguel González, whomever. And wait for Harvey to take his rightful place.

Lay back and rebuild, with every effort to shorten the downtime rather than turning back the clock to the 2000s, or make bold moves to complement the core. There can’t be an in between unless you’re OK with banking on bounceback seasons and guys taking the proverbial next step.

If you’re comfortable camping out on the middle ground.

It’s not easy to part with such big pieces, especially a unique talent like Machado. He doesn’t come along in every draft and certainly doesn’t come to the Orioles on a regular basis. He’s in a special category and it’s painful to part with him.

Is it more painful to keep him for one more season and watch him leave via free agency without getting anyone in return? Because those are the likely choices.

Waving goodbye won’t sting as much if the hand returning the gesture is wearing a ring.

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