O's next splash could be Machado mega deal

January 10th, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have made the bulk of their moves late in the winter in recent offseasons, though one move would catapult Baltimore's winter to historic heights: a long-term contract for Manny Machado.

Would it be bold? Yes. Will it happen? Right now, almost certainly not.

Machado is eligible for arbitration for the second time this winter, is under club control through 2018. Securing the services of the All-Star Gold Glove third baseman into his free-agent years would be very, very expensive. Some estimates are that it could take a long-term deal worth as much as $400 million to keep him from hitting the open market.

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Would keeping Machado in Baltimore in 2019 and beyond make the Orioles a better team? Absolutely. Would they, or rather could they, afford to do so? The seven-year $161 million deal Chris Davis signed last winter at least offers some hope that the organization is willing to commit big bucks to keep a player in black and orange.

Again, there's nothing to suggest that Machado and the O's are anywhere remotely close to a long-term deal. There were midseason rumors that the sides had some preliminary discussions, and Machado told reporters in July he was open to staying in Baltimore. All pretty customary and all months ago.

But if there's one bold move the Orioles make over the next year, a mega deal for Machado would be it.

The 24-year-old has a .284/.333/.477 slash line in parts of five big league season and is coming off a 2016 in which he hit a career-high 37 homers with 96 RBIs and finished fifth in American League MVP Award voting. Machado also had 40 doubles and scored 105 runs, putting on a defensive show most nights.

Players with Machado's numbers typically don't make it to their second year of arbitration. Seven of 10 players in the last decade who have hit at least .280 with 30 or more homers have instead reached multiyear deals, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

The closer he gets to free agency, the less likely Machado will have reason to stay. But there's always hope that the organization can pull off one big, bold move.