The Orioles are already eleven games below .500 after losing the final three games of a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians. By the grace of God, they were granted a reprieve Tuesday with a rainout against Tampa Bay.
With the losses piling up, trade speculation is beginning to surround the Orioles and Manny Machado once again. The Orioles, already 11.5 games behind division leading Boston, should certainly entertain the idea of making a trade. Just not for Machado.
Look at the Orioles objectively. They have a prospect catching at the major league level in Chance Sisco. He’s 23 years old. Machado is 25, playing shortstop. Jonathan Schoop 26 at second, and Tim Beckham is 28 at third. Then you have Chris Davis playing first base at the age of 32.
In the outfield, Trey Mancini is turning into a stud right before our eyes. He’s 26 years old. There is no true everyday right fielder on this roster, and Adam Jones is playing centerfield at the age of 32. So what’s the point of all this? I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it.
GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld
The Baltimore Orioles need to trade Adam Jones and build this team around Manny Machado. They simply can’t keep them both, and Machado is the younger, better, and more impactful player.
This is not meant as a slight to Adam Jones. He has been monumental to this city and this franchise. A strong argument can be made that Jones is the greatest Orioles outfielder to ever play for the franchise, and what he means to that clubhouse is immeasurable. But his time has come and the Orioles need to move on.
Again, I urge the readers to look at this objectively. The Orioles have a starting rotation anchored by 25-year-old Dylan Bundy that will most certainly continue to improve, and four of the starters are locked in through next season at a minimum, with Hunter Harvey coming down the pike before we know it.
They have two All-Star middle infielders in their mid-20s who give the team one of the top-two double-play combinations in the game, not to mention they hit in the middle of the lineup. Combined with Mancini, the Orioles have a solid–dare I say it–core.
In my opinion, Machado is a player you simply don’t let go, no matter the cost. The Orioles should give Dan Lozano (Machado’s agent) a pen and an open checkbook and say, “Write down a number.”
With Chris Davis’ contract, the Orioles are simply stuck at first base – figuratively and literally – as it would take a miracle to trade the perennially slumping first baseman, so that leaves Jones, and when you really look at it, it makes sense.
The Orioles would have to pay Jones anywhere from $12-$15 million annually to retain his services beyond 2018. That’s simply too much money for an aging outfielder who doesn’t walk, is losing speed, and had -12 DRS in 2017.
In the minor leagues, outfielders like Austin Hays (the Orioles minor league player of the year in 2017), D.J. Stewart, and Cedric Mullins banging down the door. This is where the Orioles have the most wiggle room contractually.
Machado is going to set a record with his new contract. We’re talking potentially north of ten years, $300 million (though last winter’s free agent freeze adds a modicum of doubt). On top of that, Schoop is going to command $20+ million annually.
If the Orioles are going to spend a minimum of $50 million dollars on their middle infield, as well as potential extensions for pitchers Kevin Gausman and Harvey along with Bundy, they are going to need to save money somewhere.
By 2023, Trey Mancini will be just entering free agency and if all goes according to plan, the trio of Hays, Stewart, and Mullins will be in their second or third years of arbitration. Not to mention Davis’ contract will be off the books, aside from deferred money.
If Hays, Stewart, and Mullins produce the way the Orioles expect them to, they are certain to make hefty raises through the arbitration process. Still, it is likely that the Orioles will be able to get two for the price of one, as any centerfield/right field combination will probably make less than what Jones is likely seeking annually.
For Jones, his mindset is on winning a championship at this point in his career. The Orioles should do right by him and send him to a team with a legitimate shot at a World Series.
With that in mind, the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals are all teams with legitimate championship aspirations that could be seeking outfield help down the stretch.
Jones’ veteran leadership and clubhouse presence could be what any contending team needs to push them over the top. Plus, Jones deserves an opportunity to play for a ring. The cost wouldn’t be too high as he is 32 years old with an expiring contract. If the Orioles can get a fringe major league player and a mid-to-low level prospect, I say they pull the trigger and get it done.
An ego is sure to come with all the talent Machado possesses. If the Orioles trade Jones, they are sending the message that Manny is the face of the franchise. They’ve already begun the process by moving him back to shortstop. If he wants the spotlight, give him the spotlight.
What Adam Jones has done for the city of Baltimore and for the Orioles can’t be quantified, and he is certain to go down as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. But Machado is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and the Orioles’ best home-grown position player since Cal Ripken, Jr. You build a team around players like him, Jonathan Schoop, and Dylan Bundy.
The Orioles have an opportunity to rebuild while keeping their biggest stars.
Unfortunately, that means trading away Adam Jones. They need to do it.