Baltimore Orioles: Why the Orioles Should Look Beyond Machado

The Baltimore Orioles will soon be forced to decide whether to sign Manny Machado to a long-term deal. Is a mega contract for one of baseball’s best talents worth it for the future of the Orioles organization?

For so many over the past four seasons, Machado has represented the hopes and dreams for the return of championship caliber baseball to Baltimore.

Despite undergoing two knee surgeries in the span of a year, the 24-year old phenom has flashed his defensive prowess earning him frequent comparisons to Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, and a bat that’s aligned him with some of the best in the American League.

In his first four seasons, Machado has notched three All-Star selections — earning the starting nod in 2016. He’s also added two Gold Glove Awards (2013, 2015).

He completed the 2016 regular season having played in a career-best 157 games. While doing so, he earned career highs in home runs, runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases.

Machado’s future in Baltimore continues to weigh heavily on the collective minds of Orioles fans. It also bears the potential $300 million question on the front office as to whether they should sign their elite defensive third baseman to a long-term mega contract.

If and when he leaves, it will certainly hurt a lot of you. I’m here to tell you that following the upcoming season, it’s almost certainly the best thing for the organization moving forward.

Here’s why:

Very few of the most expensive players in baseball have proven to be worth their contracts over the past few decades as salaries have skyrocketed. Look no further than Albert Pujols with the Angels.

It can be worth the gamble for a team with a lot of money to pay a player $25+ million per year, but for a general small to mid-market team, it can really backfire on you to put all your eggs in one basket.

If the front office decided to dish out $25-30+ million per year to Machado, which he will justifiably be seeking, he would need to perform at the level of a top-five MVP candidate each season for the team to likely be able to compete.

Maybe he’ll end up doing that. Barring injuries, an argument can be made that he’s more than capable of outperforming those odds.

The problem is, very few players do and if even if he does, the organization would only really break even with such a contract.

Don’t get me wrong, Machado is one of the more exciting talents in all of baseball. He excites day in and day out and truly looks to be shaping up as one of the all-time greats. Not to mention he’s the exact type of player an organization would want to build their future around.

But at what cost?

Many were apprehensive of the Chris Davis signing from the beginning. After the colossal contract that the Orioles signed him to in 2016 — the richest in franchise history — there just won’t be enough money to address the pitching rotation in future offseasons with mega contracts committed to both Davis and Machado.

Not to mention the lack of money that will be available to address the outfield situation as well. With so many prospects being packaged in deals over the past few seasons, the organization lacks the talent in the farm system to fill the starting pitching and outfield voids. Thus, resulting in the need to land talent in free agency.

If anything, Baltimore doesn’t exactly have the upper hand with Machado after recently avoiding arbitration.

In the early parts of this past season, him and his agent presented the Orioles with a long-term deal with free agency approaching in 2018. The front office didn’t seem to budge and discussions between the two parties never really gained any ground.

This may have left you with the foregone conclusion that the organization is questioning his future with the team — and you’d be safe to assume that.

Also noted:

Adding largely to the equation is the fact that arbitration or free agency will affect Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, and Jonathan Schoop over the next two years.

The talent of each these players has shown in recent years and their value continues to increase with each season. They are each extremely vital to the organization’s future success and will thus require pay raises.

We could get into some of the logistics that will undoubtedly come with signing Machado long-term, such as the possibility of an opt-out clause. But, if you’re familiar with recent years, you’ll know that the organization is no fan of the opt-out clause.

Perhaps Manny would be their unlikely exception.

It’s no secret that many O’s fans would love nothing more than a newly revived starting pitching staff. One capable of competing with the likes of the AL East.

Yes, currently that’s a tall task, but it would surely be a sight for sore eyes for the Camden faithful. It would also require freed up cash.

Manuel Arturo has become Charm City’s golden boy since his debut in 2012. He’s also provided new hope to an organization that last made a World Series appearance in 1983.

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The future of the organization may or may not depend on whether he stays in Baltimore. The $300 million question remains for O’s fans — is Manny worth it?

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