The Orioles plan to begin the 2018 season with star third baseman Manny Machado on their roster, postponing a possible youth movement for at least one more year, one source confirmed to MLB.com.
MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman first reported on Thursday that the Orioles "have no intention to shop" Machado and remain undecided on whether they will make a serious effort to sign the three-time All-Star to a contract extension before he enters free agency following the 2018 season.
According to the source, the Orioles intend to remake their rotation this offseason by adding as many as two starting pitchers from outside the organization. Baltimore's rotation has the worst ERA in the Majors this year, 5.64 entering Thursday, and starters Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman are eligible for free agency after the season.
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The Orioles are on pace to miss the playoffs this year, continuing a pattern of alternating seasons with and without postseason berths that began in 2012. The overall trend for the Orioles during that period has been a positive one: Their 517-446 record over the past six seasons is second-best in the American League, behind only the Yankees.
Thus, team officials want to pursue a title with Machado one last time before the roster begins a new cycle. Machado and franchise center fielder Adam Jones both have contracts that expire after 2018, as do general manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter.
In the same division, the Blue Jays have signaled a similar one-year strategy. They expect to keep former AL MVP Josh Donaldson to start the 2018 season and earlier in the week reached agreement on a one-year extension for veteran starter Marco Estrada.
The possibility exists that Machado and/or Donaldson could be available at the 2018 non-waiver Trade Deadline, should their clubs struggle in the first half. Neither the Orioles nor the Blue Jays have expressed public confidence that they will be able to meet the asking prices of Machado or Donaldson, now that they are so close to free agency.
Machado and Donaldson are represented by the same agent, Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group.