Even though he doesn't have even a full year's worth of service time yet and has played just 133 career games with the club, ESPN's Buster Olney said the time is now for the Orioles to sign Manny Machado to a long-term, megabucks contract.
"That is going to be kind of a turning point in the franchise's history because he clearly is that kind of player," Olney said this week in an interview with MASNsports.com.
A former O's beat writer for The Baltimore Sun, Olney and the ESPN broadcast crew is in Baltimore to broadcast tonight's Orioles-Yankees game on "ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball."
He said the Orioles should already be approaching Machado about a 10-year deal.
"They should absolutely talk about it. You are talking about a guy that is already one of the top 10 players in Major League Baseball and he's 20 years old," Olney said.
"The good thing from their perspective is, his agent is Dan Lozano and his representation of Joey Votto has demonstrated that he's willing to sign (his players to long-term deals). Not to say it won't be really expensive, but I think Manny is the type of player that you do that with.
"I think the model for that type of deal is the (Troy) Tulowitzki deal, the Evan Longoria deal, the deal that Votto had. I don't think the Orioles are ever going to go 12 years, which is what the Reds did with Votto, but I think that is the type of deal you are looking at.
"You might be looking at a 10-year, $150 million dollar deal. Look at what Buster Posey got. I want to say eight for $156 (million) and he's younger that Buster. He's a guy that could legitimately command a nine- or 10-year deal."
But the Orioles have never given any player a 10-year deal in club history, I reminded Olney.
"They've never had a player like Machado," he said. "You are talking about guy who has Hall of Fame potential. Matt Wieters is a terrific player and I know how much the coaching staff values him, but he's not Manny Machado.
"The only comp in their history is really Cal (Ripken Jr.)," Olney said. "Put it this way, if in 1981 and 1982 the financial landscape would be the way it is now, then Cal would have been that guy you look at potentially for a 10-year investment, and I think that is what you are talking about with Manny."
I asked Olney if he thought there were any rumblings that the Orioles were already considering a deal like that for Machado?
"No, but I think it's a natural fit. I did a story three or four weeks ago when I talked to a number of evaluators and said, 'Look, in the (Mike) Trout versus (Bryce) Harper question, should we involve three players?' Based on the voting, I got back where I asked them to rank one, two and three, it's pretty clear they think Machado is right there in terms of being a difference-making player."
Olney cited the fact that Machado is impacting games tremendously both with his bat and his glove as another reason for the O's to pursue the possible long-term deal.
"You think about guys like Evan Longoria and other top third baseman in baseball and Manny Machado, with his defensive metrics, is blowing everyone else out of the water. He is right now among the most impactful defensive players in baseball and he's on a pace to have something like 220 hits. I don't think anyone thought he would be this good."