Prior to the final game of this season, Manny Machado was asked if he was interested in a contract extension with the Orioles. He said he was.
During the next day’s news conference, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said he was interested, but there were other, more pressing priorities.
Machado won’t be a free agent for three more years, and the Orioles have six free agents of their own. Once their destinations are known, and perhaps one or two others are signed to take their place, the Orioles can think about a long-term agreement with Machado.
According to one industry source, for Machado to forego free agency in 2018, the Orioles would have to offer the young star something close to the deal Mike Trout got from the Los Angeles Angels.
Last March, Trout, who at 24, is a year older than Machado, signed a six-year, $144.5 million deal with the Angels.
Trout, who has won one Most Valuable Player award, finished second twice and is leading contender for this year, is generally acknowledged as a true superstar.
He’ll earn $16 million next season, $20 million in 2017 and $34 million a year from 2018-20.
Best of all for Trout, he can still be a free agent at 29.
Machado hasn’t quite put up the numbers Trout has, but if this year is any indication, a long-term deal should be worth it.
Coming off his second knee surgery in two years, Machado was the only major leaguer who played in each of his team’s games. His 35 home runs has only been exceeded 14 times in Orioles history, and his .286 average and .359 on-base percentage were career highs.
While Machado still struck out 111 times, Trout fanned 158 times, and he’s showing impressive plate discipline. In 2013, when he was hurt with six games to play in the season, Machado walked just 29 times. This year, he walked 70.
While he made 21 errors, Machado is still a favorite for the Gold Glove, and his wins above replacement value was 7.1, near the top 10.
When Machado came up in 2012, it was fun to hear the debates about him, Trout and Bryce Harper.
No, his numbers aren’t quite up to their standards, but he figures to be a star for years to come.
Duquette says he’s spoken with Machado’s representatives about an extension in the past, but no agreement was forthcoming.
The Orioles would have to offer Machado an unprecedented contract for him to forego a few years of free agency, but the Miami Marlins last year went against the grain and signed another young star, Giancarlo Stanton to a $13 year, $325 million contract.
As the time draws near for free agency, Machado isn’t likely to get any cheaper, but he is likely to get better.
Later this offseason, the Orioles ought to aggressively explore what for them would be a most unusual contract, signing their most important player to a long-term deal and avoiding the drama that’s currently surrounding Chris Davis.
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