The very first step in the Orioles retaining Manny Machado's services for dang near forever is Machado himself being interested in a contract extension with the Orioles. Before Sunday's final regular season game of the year, Machado told Orioles reporters that he "would definitely love to stay here" with the Orioles.
What's that worth? It's not nothing, but the O's will still need to make a fair offer with enough dollar signs to really get Machado's extension done. Machado is about to hit arbitration eligibility and he's coming off of a season in which he was fully healthy, played in every game of the year, and proved that he's among the best players in baseball. He broke out in a big way at the plate, flashed the defensive pedigree that won him a Gold Glove in his first full season back in 2013, and was by far the best player on the Orioles, even if local media did not recognize him as such.
All of that and he's only 23. That means that in another three years, when his free agency would be pending, he'd be only 26. That is a player whose services will be desired in a big way.
The good news is that Machado's comment about wanting to stay with Baltimore was more than just a throwaway comment responding to a hypothetical question. Significantly, when asked if the pending free agency of Chris Davis, Darren O'Day, and other Orioles who might soon depart would affect his interest in remaining, Machado offered this response:
"It doesn't matter," he said. "This is the organization I came up with, this is the organization I want to be with. I have no doubt in my mind that we're going to get back to where we need to be. We've got to make some moves, get some people, sign some people back. Hopefully, we sign Davis back.
The confidence from Machado that the organization will get things going back in the right direction regardless of who does or doesn't depart as a free agent stands in stark contrast to the words from this spring made by Davis. At that time, Davis, coming off a sub-Mendoza Line season, said he had "no desire to play for a loser every year" and that he wanted to see some commitment to the future before he, himself, would want to stick around.
I guess that's the difference between a Scott Boras client and one who's not. Maybe a contract extension for Machado would be the exact thing to show Davis that there is some commitment to the future being made. Machado is both the present and future star of the Orioles.
It won't be cheap to keep Machado around, but the good news is that even if they do sign him to a huge contract extension, it'll still be a couple more years before the annual salary gets to its maximum amount. That means the Orioles could lock up Machado this offseason without having a huge impact on next year's payroll and their ability to make moves this offseason.
As we saw this season, the Orioles are going to need to use some of that money to spend to improve next year's team. Machado, at least based on what he said on Sunday, is confident the Orioles will manage to do so, and he says he wants to stick aroun. Hopefully that means the sides can get a deal done that will set up Machado as the next great career Oriole.