Magic or Tragic: How Machado’s Fate Shapes O’s for Next Decade

The Baltimore Orioles have been waiting and kicking the can down the road, but the day has finally arrived; what should they do with Manny Machado? The Orioles third baseman is set to hit free agency at the end of the 2018 season, and could command a $400+ million contract in the open market, which could turn out to be too much for the Baltimore franchise. Machado is a once in a generation type player that you don’t come across often, and letting him walk, with nothing to show for it, is unacceptable in the eyes of many Orioles fans. At this point, fans just desire a consistent season, with or without Machado.

Trying To Trade Machado

At this point, Baltimore would only have until the trade deadline, July 31st, to move Machado in exchange for future assets. The Orioles are going to most likely ask for multiple prospects that will be ready to go at the start of 2019. The problem for the Orioles is finding a partner that will be willing to purge their farm system of young, controllable talent for likely only half a season until he hits free agency. The Orioles, however, have put themselves in this situation where if they do trade him, they will most likely only receive mid-level prospects that will be emerge as only utility players.

Let Machado Walk

There is a chance that the Orioles will sit on their hands and let Machado play out the upcoming season. The problem with this is that the Orioles don’t receive prospects to fill their minor league system with, and may be forced to spend their cap space on overpriced free agents. The Orioles have decent bats in the minors (Chance Sisco, Austin Hayes and Ryan Mountcastle), but desperately need starting pitching. Left-hander DL Hall won’t be ready until 2021, and right-hander Hunter Harvey may be another starting prospect turned bullpen arm, much like Zach Britton. The obvious reason for this would be that the Orioles don’t see that rotation changing pitcher on the market currently, and may be waiting to use their funds on a true ace in 2019 free agency.

Impact Felt for Years to Come

The Adam Jones era in Baltimore is coming to an end, as the aging star is at the end of his contract and will likely not renew it in Baltimore. If Machado goes, the fear is that Jonathan Schoop will leave after 2020 if the Orioles don’t make an effort to build a stronger roster. While Schoop is a solid player, Machado is already a generational talent whom the fans have deemed the heir to the “captainship” of the Orioles. With Adam Jones’ contract ending and Machado possibly leaving, Baltimore will be left without an identity and a heart. Home-grown talents such as Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer have shaped the Orioles into what they are today.

The Orioles without Machado and Jones would be left with only one All-Star in Jonathan Schoop, and that may be for only a couple of years. The Orioles would have to attempt to sell a franchise with no star power and a minor league system deprived of All-Star talent.

From there, Baltimore would just about toil near the bottom of the AL East with the Rays, who have already dismantled their team in 2017. This would be fine if you’re the Diamondbacks, Padres or Brewers, but the Orioles have a rich baseball history and die-hard fan base. The tragedy of all this could be that we are seeing the end of a once proud franchise, as they hover around mediocrity for the next decade and the ownership counts their MASN checks every month.

This season will shape this organization for years to come. They have some tough decisions to make, but they have to make them and inform the fans of their plan. A fan base that is informed will remain loyal, but keep them in the dark, and that’s where your attendance will be, in the dark. The Orioles will be here long after Machado is gone; question is, will they look more like 1983 or 2003?

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