Baltimore Orioles: White elephant at the hot corner

Manny Machado is the white elephant in the room right now for the Baltimore Orioles. This is a topic that we’re going to cover a lot this off season – so hunker down and be ready! Consider this a “preliminary conversation” about it in a sense.

Machado will be entering the final year of his contract in 2018. There’s no question that he would have been at his peak value last off season if the Orioles wanted to trade him. However the fact is that they could still get a haul for the Gold Glove nominee. And when I say that, I mean perhaps a top pitching prospect that’s ready for the big leagues right now.

It really boils down to whether or not the Orioles feel they can compete in 2018 or not. If 2012-2017 are any indication, they’ll either go to the playoffs or be in contention until the bitter end. And that’s something that a lot of people seem to conveniently forget about this past year’s team; they were eliminated from contention one week before the end of the regular season. They were far from a walking disaster.

Now with that said, there’s another factor that was unexpected in that discussion. The New York Yankees weren’t expected to compete this past year. The fact that they not only competed but went to the post season might have changed the dynamic of the division for 2018. One way or the other, it’s something to consider.

On the flip side, they (along with Boston) will be changing managers this coming year. When you change managers you really never know what you’re going to get. What was thought to be a championship team could fall back to the pack. And the same is true in reverse. It’s really an unknown in terms of how the team responds and performs.

And with that said, there’s also now a “manager situation” in Baltimore. Buck Showalter will be entering the final year of his contract next season. Does Showalter sign an extension? Retire? Move to the front office? This furthers the point about whether the Orioles can compete next year. If Showalter decides he’s stepping down at the end of his contract, perhaps they err on the side of making a run at it in 2018. And make no mistake that Buck’s status plays a role in this decision.

My stance has always been that Manny Machado should be an Oriole for life. Now there is obviously a chance that the two sides take a detour to that end in a sense. The idea of trading him now with a wink and a nod – in hopes of re-signing him after the season is out there. In essence, renting him to another team. However that’s risky…his new team would own his rights until the end of next season.

Time will tell. But needless to say, this is going to be a popular topic as we move through the off season.

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