1. Remember that feeling about ten years ago when you entered a new year and knew there wasn’t much hope for the Orioles? Welcome back. We didn’t miss you, dark ages baseball.
When things get bad, they get worse for the O’s, who have lost Zach Britton for somewhere around the next six months as the closer ruptured his Achilles while working out in California this week. The chain reaction this injury sets off is monumental. It means the Orioles certainly aren’t going to be able to trade the left-hander, who turns 30 tomorrow.
It also means they likely aren’t going to trade Brad Brach, who was a candidate to be dealt if a swap for Britton couldn’t be found. There’s now a major question as to who will anchor this team’s bullpen entering 2018. It could be Brach, or it could be Mychal Givens.
This injury has simply taken away the ability for the Orioles to go get something of value for a player that is likely going to walk away from them after the 2018 season.
2. That brings us to Manny Machado, who as of this writing is still an Oriole. I have a feeling that I’ll be writing about him being an Oriole entering the 2018 season. The front office has been teasing the possibility of a trade now for more than a week, but nothing has happened.
Reports indicate they’ve received at least a dozen legitimate offers for Machado, but haven’t been blown away.
Newsflash: they won’t be blown away.
We are talking about a player who is entering a contract year and will likely command at least $300-million next offseason. Dan Duquette says he wants at least two pitchers that are major-league ready. He won’t get that for Machado. He should be aiming for prospects, and lots of them.
And in this scenario, best offer really does apply. One team is already off the table in the San Francisco Giants, who acquired Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday. Would’ve been nice to see Christian Arroyo and multiple other prospects coming to Baltimore.
The fact that they’ve teased trading Machado, and now likely won’t do so, is an embarrassment. Duquette even indicated to MASN’s Roch Kubatko that the team may not “focus on that much more” after today, in reference to the idea of a Machado trade.
Why would he put a time limit on this? Is he deciding to take the rest of the winter off? Because it appears he’s already taken much of it to himself.
3. Duquette entered the offseason putting a priority on pitching. He knows that entering the 2018 season, he has only two viable starters to fill out a rotation. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman aren’t going to be able to pitch every other day. He’s asked for two pitchers in any deal for Machado, but that was never all that realistic, or plausible.
There are, however, free agents out on the market. Or at least there were. Duquette insists he’s putting together a team that will be competitive in 2018 (even if he trades Machado), but he’s done nothing to show that he’ll be able to do that. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are out there, and neither really make sense for the Birds. Those are the top two fish on the market, but no one expected the O’s to go after either.
The next wave, however, is completely plausible. Again, this is all under the assumption that the Orioles want to field a competitive team and not start a rebuild. I’ll use that “R-word” even if the team won’t. Every indication is that they want to try to win next season, even if I disagree that they can. Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn would be the targets the O’s should go after, and there’s no reason they couldn’t just go sign both to help fill out their rotation.
Even if they couldn’t go after both or either, there are lower cost options the team could sign, but they haven’t done it. Now there are dominoes in that realm starting to fall. Jhoulys Chacin agreed yesterday to a completely reasonable two-year deal with the Brewers worth $8-million a year.
The Orioles are asleep at the wheel when it comes to the most vulnerable part of their roster.
4. We all entered the 2012 season thinking the Orioles didn’t have much of a shot, and they made a magic run to the postseason. For the first time since then, O’s fans are going to enter 2018 with that same feeling. Truthfully, there aren’t many teams that will go into the year knowing they have no shot. The Orioles are joining the Marlins in that category.
That’s a sad state of affairs. Beyond knowing there isn’t much of a chance for the O’s in 2018, the more concerning factor is that there isn’t much direction going forward.
The Orioles have become a rudderless ship and we are all along for the long choppy ride. There’s no land in sight.