BALTIMORE -- With the Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror, what a perfect time to go through the latest batch of your Inbox questions.
What are the chances the Orioles trade [Manny] Machado?
-- Don K., Columbia, Md.
A month ago, I would have said slim to none. But given what transpired at the Meetings, it's more and more likely the O's will deal the superstar. Still, I don't think it gets done. I could be wrong, of course, but there's a few key roadblocks standing in the way. One, Machado is highly unlikely to give up his pending free agency and sign an extension as part of the deal. (Dan Duquette also noted that there wouldn't be a 72-hour window for the new team to negotiate such a deal.) Two, teams are going to be incredibly hesitant to give up top prospects for essentially a one-year rental. And, third, if the reports are true that owner Peter Angelos doesn't want Machado in pinstripes -- either by dealing with the Yankees or having another trading team flip him to them -- that's another caveat that shrinks the Orioles' pool of suitors.
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Machado is a franchise player and the O's -- if they do deal him -- can't afford to be wrong with the haul they get back. It's still a very plausible scenario, I just don't know if they can pull it off.
How come we didn't even try to extend [Machado]? As a fan, that's frustrating to watch our young, franchise players walk because we can't afford them.
-- Wayne R., Baltimore, Md.
A lot of people were upset by the news that Duquette hasn't spoken to Machado's agent in a few years regarding an extension. While I agree that he should have at least tried, it's been a foregone conclusion for quite some time that Machado is going to test the free-agent market. The O's never thought they'd be able to keep him. And any hope they had financially of committing that kind of money to a player became much more of a long shot when they signed Chris Davis to a club record deal.
How come the O's haven't signed any starters yet? We can't keep waiting around.
-- Kathy P., Norfolk, Va.
This isn't necessarily the Orioles' fault. They've made offers and the starting pitching market has been slow to come into focus this winter. They certainly can't afford to act slowly, but they can't control how long it takes guys to decide or where a free agent decides to go. They can only make a competitive offer and hope for the best. It's always going to be tough convincing a free-agent arm to pitch in hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Part of the allure in a Machado trade -- or making any trade, really -- is the opportunity to bring back young, controllable arms.
Do you think we will trade any of our relievers like [Zach] Britton or [Brad] Brach? I don't want to, but if it gets us a starting pitcher, or some top prospects, I am in.
-- Thomas R.
It seems at this given moment that they are much more willing to deal Britton than Brach, who would presumably fill in the ninth-inning duties if Britton is dealt. I can see a scenario where they trade Machado and decide it's time to get what they can for some of their pending free agents, Britton included. They came incredibly close to trading Britton to Houston at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so it's a move they've already weighed. I think if one trade does go down this winter, Britton is a pretty good shot at being it. While Mychal Givens has also drawn a lot of interest, he's young and cheap, and thus not going anywhere.
Who did the Orioles take in the Rule 5 Draft?
-- Brett R., Bethlehem, Pa.
The O's picks included left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. from the Yankees' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate, righty Pedro Araujo from the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa roster and righty Jose Mesa Jr. Jr., who was on the Yankees' Double-A Trenton roster.
That gives them four Rule 5 Draft picks, including Anthony Santander, who was hurt most of last year and maintains Rule 5 status. There's no way they keep all of those pitchers, but the hope is they can get one to stick to help the club.