It’s been two weeks since Dan Duquette’s artificial deadline for Manny Machado trade talks, a day after which he claimed the Orioles would need to “focus on some of the ways that we can add to the ballclub.” No one really believed him then and it seems no one believes him now, either, because according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees were back in touch with the O’s about Machado this week.
Even in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when the baseball world appeared to be almost entirely dormant, there was at least one Machado rumor, with MLB Network’s Jon Morosi then reporting that the Red Sox were showing “continued trade interest” in Machado. So that’s two-for-two in hearing about division rivals for which it would be painful to watch Machado play, even if they offer the best trade.
That the Machado matter hasn’t been settled despite Duquette attempting to act like he was moving on is not all that much of a surprise. After all, within 20 minutes after a Baltimore Sun article where Duquette appeared to be putting his foot down, a different Orioles beat writer, MASN’s Roch Kubatko, said this:
Told again that #orioles haven't closed the door on Machado trade. Preparing to make moves with idea that he's on club, but some teams still poking around and talks easily can resume if acceptable offer is made.— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 22, 2017
Teams are clearly still poking around, including teams within the O’s own division. It seems that the refrain remains that they are seeking two young, controllable starting pitchers. Heyman reports that “no one has come close to matching” what the O’s are looking for in exchange for Machado, leading him to deem the chances of a deal as “less than great.”
A specific comparable trade that came up from The Sun’s Jon Meoli two weeks ago and Heyman today is the deal that sent Jason Heyward from the Braves to the Cardinals in November 2014, with the Braves receiving well-regarded young pitcher Shelby Miller and ex-top 100 prospect Tyrell Jenkins in the deal.
It’s worth noting that, while the Braves made this trade work out by spinning Miller after a year to the Diamondbacks for three players, including former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, between Miller and Jenkins themselves, there has been one good big league season since that trade happened.
There are no sure things when you insist on getting pitchers. That doesn’t mean that the Orioles shouldn’t trade Machado at all, or shouldn’t try to get a pitcher for him.
If Heyman knows what exactly the Yankees were dangling to try to revive Machado trade talks, he doesn’t say, merely noting that, if they decided to offer more in order to add another star player to their lineup this offseason, they have the top prospect arsenal to do so. He seems to think that the Orioles would be willing to consider a deal that involves a position player as well.
One way to read the ongoing Machado trade saga is that it could be a matter of whether some other team blinks and offers the pitchers the Orioles say they want, or whether it’s the Orioles who blink and grab the best deal that’s been put in front of them. Of course, if neither of these things happens, Machado will keep suiting up for the O’s in 2018.
In the two weeks since Kubatko said the Orioles were “preparing to make moves” as if Machado would be on the team, they have made no moves. Part of that is certainly the Christmas-New Year’s lull, during which not much of anything happened in baseball for any team. Everyone seems to be waiting to see if free agent prices come down.
For now, it can still seem like the Orioles have a plan, but if another two weeks go by and there have still been no moves, that will become tougher to believe. Despite what Duquette said before Christmas, they don’t seem to have made a final decision on what to do about Machado.