A lot has been made over the past year or so about the Baltimore Orioles’ situation with Manny Machado. And if you look down the road a piece, the Washington Nationals are in the same bot with Bryce Harper. Both players will be free agents after next year, and they’re expected to get obtuse paydays – even by MLB standards.
At the most recent home stand, a New York fan was seen wearing a #13 jersey in pinstripes with MACHADO taped onto the back. (Never mind the fact that New York doesn’t put names on the backs of their jerseys…) And in Washington they’re seeing similar sentiments regarding Harper. Fans in both camps are already preparing for the player’s departure – and perhaps with good reason.
There are only a few teams who would potentially be willing to pay the amount that industry experts are saying Machado and Harper will be garnering on the open market. New York, Boston, the LA Dodgers, and perhaps the Chicago Cubs are thought of as teams that could afford that. But could the Orioles?
Only the Orioles know that for sure. However I would say that they probably could, if you factor in the MASN money. In fact, the premise of the article assumes that they could in theory afford Machado at $35-$40 million a year for 8-10 years. So let’s use that as a given…
…what I’m saying is that the Orioles should pony up and sign him – NOW. If the Orioles were going to deal Machado, the time to do it would have been this past off season. With two years left of team control, he would have been at his peak value. So in my view, that’s not an option – if it ever was one to begin with.
So the only option would be for the Orioles to sign him, and sign him now. First off, the Orioles are the only team who can legally negotiate with Machado right now. No agent or player would legitimately be able to bounce an offer off of another team. If Machado hits the open market, it’s going to be ugly – for the Orioles. The same is true with Harper in Washington. The Orioles might well decide to make an offer of ten years $350 million with Machado on the open market. But NY would go up to $360, Boston up to $370, etc.
So the only real option the Orioles have if they want to dictate the market is to make a mega-offer right now. Or at some point prior to next year. Do I think it’s fair that salaries have gotten that out of control? Not in the least. My personal opinion is that baseball needs a salary cap. Am I saying that Machado is priceless? I’m not going that far – but I’m saying that he’s the best third baseman in the game today, and he’s a player the Orioles can’t afford to lose.
This is all very easy to say about someone else’s money. But keep in mind that odds are the Orioles would be playing against Machado 18 times a year. Do Orioles fans really want to see Machado coming into Camden Yards and flashing his defensive magic against their team? I would suspect not. So the only alternative is to sign him.