Friday, December 15, 2017

Trading Machado: The Lesser of Two Evils

As fun as the last five years have been – and they were fun – I never got the sense that anything really changed with ownership. I never got the sense that a light bulb went on in Peter Angelos’ head and he suddenly realized how to run a MLB team the right way. The last five years occurred despite Angelos and his unorthodox philosophies. I won’t get into the reasons why the Orioles were good from 2012-2016, but it wasn’t because of Angelos. And after a disappointing 2017, it looks like we’re right back where we started…in that dark tunnel reminiscent of the mid-2000’s when this team looked like it would never compete again.

And perhaps nothing has exemplified that newly returned doom and gloom feeling better than the on-going Manny Machado will-he-or-won’t-he-be-traded saga during the winter meetings. I’ll admit, even publically entertaining the prospect of trading Machado – the best player the O’s have developed on their own since Cal Ripken – is new territory for them. Usually Manny would be off limits and that would be that. But I also highly doubt he will be traded, at least during the offseason. Here’s why…

Despite the inevitable being a year away – Manny signing with the Yankees as a free agent – Angelos is a stickler for contracts. After the 2014 season when Dan Duquette received interest from the Blue Jays to become their general manager, Angelos forced Duquette to work out the remainder of his contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 season (which is a whole other issue here). So Angelos will have no problem keeping Manny for his last season and then let him walk next offseason. Herein lies the problem.

Rumors have been coming out of the winter meetings hot and heavy, and it’s been hard to keep up with them. But one of the most disturbing rumors is that if the Orioles trade Machado to the White Sox, who reportedly have the best offer on the table, Angelos does not want Machado to be then traded to the Yankees. He’s even gone as far as wanting that language written into any potential Machado trade.

What Angelos fails to realize is this – Machado is a Yankee next year regardless of what happens this offseason. So all your demands to keep Machado out of New York works for exactly one baseball season. Are you willing to let a stupid grudge stop you from trading Machado for the best return when the alternative is to get nothing besides a draft pick?

No matter what happens, Orioles fans lose, whether it’s watching as Machado is traded this offseason, whether that’s to the White Sox, Cardinals, Yankees or some other team -- or watching him sign somewhere else as a free agent next offseason. Chances are it’ll be New York, which has also been rumored to be the place where Manny wants to go. So to soften the blow of losing Manny, you should get as much as you can for him now.

Actually, if the Orioles were a well-run organization, they actually have an opportunity to make out like bandits – trading Machado now but not before you let him in on your plan. “Manny, we’re trading you now so we can get prospects that will make this team much better in 2019 when we want to re-sign you. We’ll make you a market-fair offer so please keep us in mind.” But that’s something you haven’t heard talked about this offseason, the possibility of the Orioles re-signing Machado next offseason. There’s been radio silence on that front, so it’s all but confirmed that he’ll be somewhere else next year. And if they let him walk the Orioles will get little in return and the Yankees will not have to part with any talented prospects in order to acquire him earlier.

That’s the equivalent of fan loyalty suicide. I can’t support a team that allows Manny Machado to walk and get nothing in return. I’m already heartbroken about the likelihood that Manny is in pinstripes at some point between today and a year from now – but to get nothing in return for that would be unforgiveable. I’d never root for another baseball team if that happened, but I sure as hell couldn’t support the Orioles under that circumstance.

The bottom line has stayed the same despite the recent winning we’ve enjoyed. Angelos is a god-awful owner and needs to go. He sits up there in his ivory tower and says he has the best interests of fans at heart by keeping ticket prices down and signing Chris Davis to a $161 million dollar contract, but truth is all he cares about is his bottom line and sticking to his distorted philosophies, many of which go against the current climate of the MLB – like not believing in the posting system for international free agents and not committing to the international amateur pool – things that an overwhelming majority of other teams are doing to get better.

I believe there’s a fan revolt coming regardless of how this Machado situation plays out. No one will be happy to see Machado in pinstripes, making those highlight reel plays on the YES Network. But to get nothing in return for that is the real sin that Angelos seems destined to commit.

And there is no forgiveness for that.