This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver–Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.
1. I figure this should be a pretty mellow version of the “Thursday Thoughts” this week.
Nothing really happened in the world of Orioles baseball that I can recall, right?
Okay, at least that’s what I was hoping for. Instead, everything happened. It all happened.
Sunday’s bombshell report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about the Orioles being ready to sell, followed by his subsequent report that indicated ownership was approving that idea, has thrown Baltimore into a frenzy. It’s important to realize that even though the Orioles have won three straight games, there’s a reason there was a discussion about selling earlier this week. Winning a few games doesn’t change the fact that this team should be prepared to sell. A few more won’t mean that either.
This team is in a position to sell, despite being just 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.
It’s important to remember that.
2. The biggest mystery to me surrounding the idea of the O’s “selling” is why Manny Machado would be completely off the table. Frankly, the Birds should be at least “listening” on any player. But Machado is the player they should be most intent on listening about considering he’s the most valuable trade chip they have.
I don’t think the Orioles are forced to trade Machado before the end of the month. They could very well make it happen this winter. But they shouldn’t be hanging up the phone if Machado’s name is brought up.
Unless they have some kind of handshake agreement that they will be able to re-sign Machado after next season (they don’t), it would be foolish to lose him for nothing.
3. Perhaps the most likely player to be traded away is Zach Britton, and that’s the right move as well. Britton’s value will perhaps be suppressed a bit by his injury-plagued season, but he’s still incredibly treasured in baseball circles and will be by the team that he ends up on.
There’s a lot of talk about Britton perhaps being the “Andrew Miller” of this deadline, and I believe he can bring back every bit of the return Miller did last season. Whether it’s the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros or some other team, there’s nothing stopping the O’s from dealing Britton. While Machado doesn’t actually have to be traded, the story is a bit different when it comes to the closer.
Things have escalated to a point where dealing some of the bullpen arms should be a certainty at this point, not just speculation.
4. The two buzzwords that are really bugging me this week are “re-tool” and “re-build.” There frankly shouldn’t be much of a difference between the two, but there’s some belief that the O’s can trade away some pieces and still be competitive next season with players like Machado on the roster.
I don’t believe the Orioles are just a player or two away from being serious World Series contenders. There’s a much greater deficit within the organization right now. The only way to truly restock the system and build for a long-term future is to tear things down and flush the pipes.
The other large factor that looms over a re-tool versus re-build mindset is the future of Dan Duquette. If the GM really does have the authority to trade away some players on this roster, it must mean that owner Peter Angelos trusts him to be around for this rebuild.
The future of both Duquette and manager Buck Showalter should be under an intense microscope during these next few weeks as trades are, or aren’t made.