Baltimore Orioles: Did decision not to trade Jones, Machado tip O’s hand?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 9: Adam Jones /

The Baltimore Orioles are in a complicated situation that has MLB trade rumors all over the place with a team that is trying to focus on winning in 2017 while also making the team better for 2018 and beyond.

Some recent items can be interpreted as clues as to what the Baltimore Orioles may be looking to do moving forward.

As of right now, the Orioles have a total team salary of $170 million dollars for 2017.

In 2018, the team currently has seven players under contract for almost $91.5 million.

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Those numbers include the $7 M player option to Welington Castillo, $21+ M to Chris Davis, $14 M team option to J.J. Hardy, $17.3 M to Adam Jones, $11 M to Mark Trumbo, $12 M team option to Wade Miley and $9 M to Darren O’Day.

Now, that won’t add up to almost $91.5 M due to signing bonuses, etc. but you get the picture.

Say that Castillo declines his option (either because he isn’t an Oriole anymore or the team convinces him he won’t be starting with Chance Sisco on the roster). The team is not going to pick up Hardy’s option, and they shouldn’t be paying Wade Miley $12 M a year either.

As a result, it leaves right around $50 million on the roster in Davis, Jones, Trumbo and O’Day.

The following players are under team control still for 2018, meaning their contracts are approximate $530,000 to $550,000:

Team Future Payrolls
NameAgeYrsAcquiredSrvTmContract Status201720182019202020212022
Mychal Givens273Amateur Draft1.0691 yr/$546k (17)$546kPre-ArbArbArbArbFA
Joey Rickard262Rule 5 Draft1.0001 yr/$539k (17)$539kPre-ArbArbArbArbFA
Donnie Hart262Amateur Draft0.0801 yr/$539k (17)$538.5kPre-ArbPre-ArbArbArbArb
Trey Mancini252Amateur Draft0.0151 yr/$536k (17)$536kPre-ArbPre-ArbArbArbArb
Mike Wright273Amateur Draft1.027ArbArbArbFA
Dylan Bundy243Amateur Draft1.026ArbArbArbFA
Miguel Castro223Traded0.139ArbArbArb
Richard Bleier302Traded0.100ArbArbArb

Provided by View Original Table

The following players are arbitration-eligible, and will see there 2017 contracts (in parenthesis) likely increase:

Team Future Payrolls
NameAgeYrsAcquiredSrvTmContract Status201720182019202020212022
Manny Machado246Amateur Draft4.0561 yr/$11.5M (17)$11.5MArbFA
Zach Britton297Amateur Draft4.1581 yr/$11.4M (17)$11.4MArbFA
Jonathan Schoop255Amateur Free Agent3.0271 yr/$3.48M (17)$3.48MArbArbFA
Kevin Gausman265Amateur Draft2.1511 yr/$3.45M (17)$3.45MArbArbArbFA
Brad Brach317Traded4.0631 yr/$3.05M (17)$3.05MArbFA
Vidal Nuno295Traded3.0151 yr/$1.13M (17),1 yr/$1.13M (17)$1.12MArbArbFA
Caleb Joseph314Amateur Draft2.1451 yr/$700k (17)$700kArbArbArbFA
Johnny Giavotella297Free Agency3.031ArbArbFA

Provided by View Original Table

So, if no trades are made, where does the Orioles roster stand?

The above players add up to 20 players.

Catcher: Joseph
First base: Chris Davis
Second base: Schoop, Giavotella
Third base: Machado
Shortstop:  N/A
Outfield: Mancini, Jones, Rickard
Designated hitter: Trumbo
Starting pitching: Gausman, Bundy
Relief pitching: Britton, Brach, O’Day, Givens, Hart, Wright, Castro, Bleier, Nuno

So, the Orioles need a shortstop, and they need starting pitching. This gives credence to the Orioles still considering Wright as a starter, considering making Castro a starter and thinking about using Bleier as a starter.

With today’s announcement that Ryan Mountcastle is moving to Double-A Bowie, where he will be playing third base, it makes one wonder why he will play third base?

Well, the word is that his arm is not strong enough to play short stop in the major leagues. Some people think he could play third base, others see him as a left fielder. The bat is not the issue, that is for sure.

The other announcement that may have an impact on the future is the fact that Peter Angelos told Dan Duquette that Machado and Jones are off-limits when it comes to trading them.

If the Orioles were to do a full rebuild, these two would be two players other teams would want.

Could it be that Angelos and the Orioles are gearing up to pay to keep both players past 2018?

Look, say what you want about Jones. Say he is declining, say he would need to move from center field, say the Orioles have young prospects who can play the outfield. But, the man is a leader and is beloved by Baltimore Orioles community, and Major League Baseball.

Don’t think that anyone has forgotten what happened when the other half of the 2110 combination left. Some thought Nick Markakis was declining, and he wasn’t worth the money. All he has done since for Atlanta is bat .282/.358/.387 with 38 doubles in 2015 and 2016 and appear in over 155 games in each of those seasons.

Sure, the power isn’t what it once was, but he isn’t playing in Baltimore anymore either.

Markakis would still be a great fit in Baltimore, where he was beloved by the fans and the Orioles’ community.

Then we get to Machado.

Could the Orioles be preparing to back up the truck to pay for Machado? It isn’t impossible.

The Orioles have done a great job at fitting contracts into their payroll, even if they aren’t exactly the best deals (looking at you Davis).

Machado is the face of the franchise, much like Cal Ripken Jr. was and Brooks Robinson before him.

Now, if Manny wants the highest dollar amount, then the Orioles won’t be able to compete with Boston, New York (Yankees), Los Angeles (Dodgers) or Philadelphia. But, if he would take $400 million over 10 years, the Orioles might be able to make that work.

Otherwise, why keep Machado? Getting nothing for him would be a massive mistake. Maybe Angelos expects the Orioles to make a run at it next year, when the pitchers are Bundy, Gausman and whoever the team signs/converts.

Also, Machado has expressed a desire to play short stop. With Hardy all but gone next year, Machado could be the starting short stop for Baltimore in 2018.

Next: How the Orioles bullpen can survive a fire sale

Now, I’m not going to anoint Mountcastle as next year’s third baseman. The Orioles could sign a third baseman in the offseason.

But, I think these recent moves and decisions by the team indicate the Orioles will do all they can to keep both Jones and Machado in Baltimore long past 2018.