Two years ago, the Baltimore Orioles reportedly had a deal in place with Dexter Fowler at the end of free agency, before it was revealed that was not actually the case, and there were allegations that the Orioles had been using the media to try to force his hand.
Here’s part of a statement from Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, after the fact:
In my 25 years in this business, never before have I witnessed such irresponsible behavior on so many fronts. Both the Orioles front office and members of the media were so busy recklessly spreading rumors that they forgot or simply chose not to concern themselves with the truth. The Orioles’ willful disregard of collectively bargained rules governing free agency and the media’ eager complicity in helping the Orioles violate those rules are reprehensible.
Last season, the Orioles were reportedly close to trading star closer Zach Britton to the Astros, but ultimately backed out of the deal at the last minute. There were rumors at the time that some of the proposed Astros players failed their physicals, but it seems the Orioles, more specifically and reportedly their owner Peter Angelos, got cold feet.
Dexter Fowler, the guy they didn’t sign, went on to post the best season of his career and win the World Series with the Cubs (thanks for that one!). Zach Britton, the guy they didn’t trade, threw 17.1 IP after the Trade Deadline and ruptured his Achilles tendon on December 20, ruling him out for 6 months.
While these two stories are two of the more recent and prominent mistakes made by the Orioles, it’s fair to say that owner Peter Angelos has a lot of say in the baseball operations of his club, and his decisions haven’t always been on point.
So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to see Jon Heyman report “one person familiar with the situation guesses that it was still only ’50-50′ whether Angelos would approve a trade of Machado,” but it would be another huge mistake on the part of Angelos.
Not only are the Orioles *already* one of the worst teams in baseball (16-34, 18.0 games out of first place) they’re in a division with arguably the best two teams in baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox. At FanGraphs, their playoffs odds actually sit at 0.00% – be it for the division, Wild Card, or anything else. Put simply, they are not making the postseason this year, so holding onto a 25-year-old MVP-caliber middle infielder with an expiring contract wouldn’t just be stupid, it would be reckless.
I mean, consider what the Yankees got for half a season of a closer (Gleyber Torres looks like he’ll be a force in New York for six or seven years, and he was just part of the deal). How could the Orioles justify not trading the same amount of control for Machado, when they weren’t even as close to contending as the Yankees were in 2016?
And on top of that, Heyman reports that as many as nine teams made significant efforts to land Machado over the winter – the Indians, D-Backs, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers, and Cubs – and six of those teams (Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Indians, Cardinals, and D-Backs) still seem like logical fits to add him this season, according to Heyman.
So … the Orioles don’t need him, he’s leaving in a few months, a ton of teams want him, and he could net a haul. Why in the world would they keep him? Well, Angelos has done it before, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Any other team and you’d just say this was a lame attempt at leverage.
In the meantime, you should know that Heyman has said that teams have already begun actually reaching out to the Orioles over Machado, but that doesn’t necessarily mean trade talks are happening yet. Recall what Theo Epstein said yesterday (trade talks have been essentially nil this month). And especially with respect to the Cubs, remember the “fantasy land” comments?
So I guess … prepare for this to be a baseball-wide drama all the way to the very end.