Baltimore Orioles: Why trading Manny Machado makes sense

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 17: Manny Machado
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 17: Manny Machado /

The Baltimore Orioles are a team that needs to examine the future, even if that means trading the team’s best and most important player.

The Baltimore Orioles picked up a win on Monday night behind solid pitching by Chris Tillman and the bullpen.

Don’t let that fool you in to thinking this team should buy.

It shouldn’t.

Even if the starts against Chicago were a mirage or Chicago is set to go on a major run (entirely possible), the Baltimore Orioles are not a playoff team.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Some might argue they are only five games out of the second wild card, and that’s true. But how many teams are in front of them.

And if the Baltimore Orioles did make the playoffs, they don’t have the pitching to compete with Houston, Boston, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, etc.

Since the Orioles are a team that needs to sell and acquire important pieces for the team’s future, a popular piece of discussion is Manny Machado.

Machado is one of the top 20 position players in the game, and some would argue top 10.

He is a three-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner. He has a combination of power and defense at one of the most difficult positions to play in baseball, third base.

Not only that, but he is naturally a short stop, and has expressed a desire to play that position in the future.

Did we mention he just turned 25 this month?

He also is set to cash in after the 2018 season.

Many believe he will get a contract of at least 10 years, and at least 300 million dollars.

Machado will get one of the richest contracts in baseball history. Currently, the highest paid player in baseball is Zack Greinke, making $206,500,000 over six years, or $34,416,667 a year.

It is entirely possible Machado could exceed that.

According to baseball reference, the player most similar to Machado by age is his current opponent, Adrian Beltre, a sure fire Hall of Famer.

So, why should the Orioles trade him now? Let’s lay it out.

  1. The Orioles do not have the ability to pay Machado the contract he is looking for after 2018.
  2. Machado has reportedly expressed a desire to play in a top market.
  3. Trading Machado now means he is not a rental, giving the team that acquires him a year and several months of his abilities.
  4. While Machado has struggled somewhat in 2017, his numbers are turning around.
  5. The haul of prospects received now, in conjunction with trading a major bullpen piece would help set the Orioles up for the offseason and a look toward the future.

The absolute worst thing that could happen is Machado leaves after 2018, and the Orioles get a compensatory pick and nothing else.

Some people believe trading Machado now would set the franchise back 2-4 years. And that is probably true.

Not trading him at all would likely set the franchise back 5-8 years.

Machado is currently hitting .238/.305/.448 with 16 HR, 47 RBIs, 39 runs and 18 doubles.

Must Read: Orioles should trade Brad Brach and keep Zach Britton

However, over his last nine games, he is hitting .432/.488/.676 with 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, five runs and three doubles.

Machado’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a low .251. His BABIP average over his career is .303, so it is not surprising to see Machado’s numbers going up.

He likely won’t improve the average to his career average of .279, but it should continue to trend upward.

Regardless of these numbers, trading a player of Machado’s ilk does not happen often.

As you review trades of true superstars in baseball in recent years, you see some promising signs for the Orioles.

1998 – Mike Piazza traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson and Gary Sheffield.

Lots of big names in this deal, but it was part of the Marlins fire sale, so it doesn’t qualify as what the Orioles are trying to do.

2002 – Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Montreal Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens.

Lee became an ace, Phillips became a terrific player in his right, and Sizemore was a fixture in Cleveland’s outfield for several years before injuries robbed him of his career.

2004 – Alex Rodriguez traded by the Texas Rangers with cash to the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias.

A-Rod had worn out his welcome in Texas, and they wanted to move him for something. They thought they were getting a good return in Soriano, but it never really panned out for him. Meanwhile, Rodriguez would help the Yankees for years.

2004 – Carlos Beltran traded by the Kansas City Royals to Houston. Oakland Athletics sent Mark Teahen and Mike Wood to the Royals. Astros sent Octavio Dotel to the Athletics. Astros sent John Buck and cash to the Royals.

Beltran was in his prime at this point, one of the top players in the league but vastly underrated. However, with the structure of the three-team deal, it makes it harder to evaluate simply, but only the Royals made out well here, although Dotel would be a reliable reliever for many years.

2007 – Mark Teixeira traded with Ron Mahay by the Texas Rangers to the Atlanta Braves for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Another ideal trade for the team trading the star. Andrus would go on to be a cornerstone at short stop for the Rangers, where he continues to play today. Feliz was a closer for a few years, and Harrison was also outstanding as a starter. Both have recently struggled and dealt with injuries and are for different teams.

Saltalamacchia is still in the league, while Teixeira has retired, and had trouble staying healthy in New York.

And that’s one last thing to consider with Machado. Say the Orioles could pay him to keep him not only the next year and a half but through 2030. What if he continues to suffer knee injuries? What if he has to retire early?

Next: Orioles preparing to sell all but Machado, Jones, Givens

The Baltimore Orioles are in a position where they need to sell and stock the minor leagues. They have the pieces to do it, and the time is now.

Trading Machado won’t be easy for fans, but if it leads them to the World Series, somewhere they won’t be going in the next two years, it will all be worth it.