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Orioles could use Kyle Seager's contract as a template to extend Manny Machado

The Mariners recently re-upped their third baseman. Would a Manny Machado extension with the Orioles look similar?

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of a busy offseason, the Mariners extended the services of their third baseman, Kyle Seager, to the tune of seven years, $100 million.  Seager enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, rattling off a 127 OPS+ and upping his defensive game at the hot corner, making him a 5.8-win player by baseball-reference's calculus.  The season was part of a steady trend of improvement since Seager broke into the big leagues in 2011.  The contract extension left some Orioles fans wondering if the team could get its own young third baseman to sign on beyond his free agent years with a similar deal.

This question interests me because, last offseason, I mused on whether the Orioles could profile a Machado contract after Andrelton Simmons' seven-year, $58 million deal.  At the time, I hoped that the Orioles could get a Machado deal done for something like seven years, $65 million.  I don't know if the difference in Seager suddenly getting $100 million is that he's got the better offensive stats, or that the league is being pumped full of funny money by regional sports networks, or a little bit of both, but that's a big change in the discussion in just a year's time.

Seager and Machado probably have less in common than Simmons and Machado did, even though they both play the same position.    For starters, Seager is much older (27 vs. 22).  He'll be 34 when his deal runs out, whereas Machado would still end a seven-year contract under the age of 30. Seager draws far less value from his glove than Machado -- he had a cumulative negative dWAR before 2014. And Seager is better then Machado (so far) with both patience and home-run power.  Seager had almost as many walks last season as Machado has taken in his young career, and managed to crank 25 home runs even with 81 games in the deadball zone known as Safeco Field, whereas Machado so far has been more of a gap hitter even in the smaller parks of the AL East.

The Mariners have been on a spending spree for the last two years, and to tell the truth, I'm not entirely certain that I love the Seager extension.  Time will tell if they got it right, but his defense could easily revert back to league average, and his bat will probably be past its prime in just 3-4 years.

All of which is to say, I'm not entirely certain that the contract is a great comp for Manny Machado.  Machado being so much younger, of a higher prospect pedigree, and the team not yet knowing how his patience or power will develop -- not to mention whether his knees will heal -- would certainly make me balk if Machado's agent uses Seager's deal as a starting point.  With Machado ending two consecutive seasons with the same injury, this may not be the right offseason for either party to have enough confidence to ink a long-term extension.

None of which is to say that I fundamentally don't want the Orioles to extend Machado.  Of course I do.  If he's interested in getting some paycheck certainty and can be had in the range of $80 million -- or maybe if he's willing to up for eight or nine years at a similar average annual value -- the team should definitely listen, particularly if the team physicians are as confident as they publicly claim that this year's knee surgery is a permanent structural fix.  But with the way that the team has been cautious about health issues in the recent past, and with Machado having all the incentive in the world to put up a full, healthy season and show that his bat will develop, the deal might be one that leaves Orioles fans waiting one more season.