Baltimore Orioles: Rule 5 picks, Michael Kelly, and Manny Machado

Before the Rule 5 draft even occurred yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles had already signed free agent pitcher Michael Kelly. Kelly was formerly of the San Diego Padres organization, but has never pitched at the big league level. However while the Orioles assigned him to triple-A Norfolk, he signed a major league contract.

As for the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles expanded their involvement this year, selecting three players. LHP Nestor Cortes was selected from the New York Yankees’ organization, as was RHP Jose Mesa. The Orioles also took RHP Pedro Araujo from the Chicago Cubs. Of those three, Cortes is the most likely to stick, and to eventually compete for a spot in the rotation. The Birds also lost six players in the minor league portion of the draft.

The big news around the team of course still involves Manny Machado, and the trade possibilities out there. Dan Duquette said that he was going home and would continue talking to teams over the weekend. The Orioles are justifiably doing everything they can to keep Machado out of the AL East – namely Boston or New York. And I’m on record as saying that you just don’t trade a player of Machado’s caliber in your own division.

The Orioles floated the idea of making a deal contingent on the receiving team signing Machado to an extension within 72 hours, which I thought was a good idea. Apparently that hasn’t been well received by teams interested in him. The idea of course being that if he were signed to an extension, that team wouldn’t turn around and trade him to a team like New York.

There were reports out of Chicago that the ChiSox were going to acquire him, and immediately flip him to the Bronx for a bigger haul than they gave away to the O’s. And that probably would have lit Birdland on fire, as the question would be why the Orioles couldn’t have gotten that haul for Machado but someone else could. And the answer is simple; because New York isn’t going to give up as much value to a division rival as they would to any run-of-the-mill team. It’s the same principle.

I’m not sure however that you can guarantee that Machado isn’t flipped to New York under your nose. I hate to say that, but odds are it’s true. What if a team agreed to that 72 hour rule, only to sign him to a five-year extension AND THEN flip him to New York (or Boston)? Odds are they’d probably then get a much bigger haul for Machado than the Orioles did, of course because he’d be under team control for the duration of that contract. So if the Orioles get too technical, it could potentially end up backfiring in their face.

The best way to keep him out of New York (at least until his current contract expires) is to trade him to a team that can probably afford to keep him. I wouldn’t think the ChiSox would be one of those teams. Regardless of the quality of prospects that they might throw the Orioles’ way, I suspect they’d be a candidate to turn around and flip Machado to someone else – and there’s already a rumor out there that a back channel to the Bronx exists. However if they trade him to someone such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, I see him playing there for the duration of the season.

The Orioles owe it to themselves and more importantly to their fans to get the best deal possible. However they owe the same due diligence to keep Machado away from their division rivals. Lots of people want to challenge that old line of thinking and argue that if New York offers the best deal they should take it. But even if it’s the best deal on paper, it’s still not the best deal. Because one of your own would then be playing against you 18 times. And when Machado’s making spectacular plays at third and robbing the likes of Jones and Davis of extra-base hits, it’ll certainly be real.

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