The Comet

Orioles Must Sell

Ian Miller, Staff

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Everybody knows it: 

In two years the Yankees will arguably have one of the best teams of the last couple decades. With a lineup containing a power-hitting duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, that may become a trio when the Yankees sign either Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, or Charlie Blackmon.  

The Red Sox will have a dominant team containing the likes of Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, and ace-closer Craig Kimbrel. With Betts and Andrew Benintendi only getting better and the potential addition of a power-hitter like JD Martinez and/or Jose Abreu on the horizon, the Red Sox will continue to be contenders for the world series title, along with the Indians and Astros already being massive road blocks towards playoff contention for teams like the Orioles. 

Nonetheless, the top wild card spot will certainly be held by the Yankees or the Red Sox, creating a situation in which the Orioles will be competing against the Angels, who recently added Shohei Otani, the best pitching prospect in the world, the Twins, the Mariners, the Rangers, and the Rays, just to see who will lose in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. 

To put it simply, the Orioles don’t have the money or the farm system to compete in the newly hyper-competitive American League environment. In order to replenish their farm system and to hold on to any hope for the future, the Orioles must sell their veteran assets. 

Clearly the Orioles will not be able to find any takers for the contracts of Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, as they are far too expensive. They cannot trade Adam Jones because he now holds a full no-trade clause and fans might stop coming to Camden Yards because Jones is a beloved figure in the city of Baltimore. 

However, the O’s can and must trade their elite assets in Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach. Trades involving these players will net a hefty sum of prospects, potentially adding building block prospects to a future foundation of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey, Mychal Givens, Jonathan Schoop, Tim Beckham, Chance Sisco, Austin Hays, and even Miguel Castro, and the O’s have a potentially bright future. 

It is also important to note that combined extensions among Machado, Brach, and Britton could total anywhere from $45 to 70 million annually. The Orioles might not be willing to dole out extensions to potentially any of these players. 

Also, with Ubaldo Jimenez, Seth Smith, Chris Tillman, Ryan Flaherty, Craig Gentry, JJ Hardy, Wade Miley, and Welington Castillo coming off the books, the Orioles have a total of $39 million coming off the books after arbitration raises. With hypothetical trades involving Machado($18m), Brach ($5m), and Britton ($12m), and $35 million is added to an already huge 39-million-dollar figure; that is potentially $74 million available in payroll. 

With these two hefty figures in mind, there is no reason to think that the Orioles can’t make a splash or two in free agency in order TO KEEP FANS COMING TO GAMES.  The Orioles have the capital available to sign a talented offensive outfielder such as Lorenzo Cain (long-term deal) and/or Carlos Gonzales (short-term deal) to make up for the lost offensive efficiency in a Machado trade.  They could also sign a player like Todd Frazier, who is an above average defender who has averaged 33 homers over the past four seasons. They could sign these players while also signing a consistent starting pitcher, potentially Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, to round out a weak rotation. 

Then again, they are the Orioles and have a tendency to not use available money thanks to lackluster management and incompetent ownership (cough-cough, Dan Duquette; cough-cough, Peter Angelos). Although unlikely, the O’s can trade Machado and Britton and still compete with an active yet realistic free agent spree. But failing to trade Machado and letting him walk in free agency would be too great a sin for many season ticket holders to re-up their plans. 

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