Manny Machado's name has been one of the most popular -- and intriguing -- on the trade market this offseason, but industry sources believe the All-Star third baseman will still be manning the hot corner for the Orioles when the season opens on March 29.
Baltimore has been listening to offers for Machado for better part of the month, and while many teams have expressed serious interest in acquiring the 25-year-old, none have put forth an offer to pry him away from the O's.
It is believed that the Orioles are seeking two controllable starting pitchers for Machado, who is set to become a free agent after the 2018 season. That price seems to be too steep for Machado, at least not without the chance to sign him to a long-term extension -- something that seems extremely unlikely this close to free agency.
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According to a source, the Orioles will continue to listen to interested teams, but they don't plan on moving Machado for a discounted package. That could change come July if Baltimore is out of the race, but for now, the asking price remains high.
Toronto's Josh Donaldson -- another All-Star third baseman slated to become a free agent next offseason -- has also been the subject of multiple trade rumors in recent weeks, but a source said the Blue Jays continue to be resolute in their desire to hold on to their franchise player, believing they will contend for a postseason berth this year.
With the two players likely to stay put with their respective teams, clubs seeking third-base help could begin turning to a free-agent market that includes Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez.
Slow burn for the Hot Stove
The relative lack of action on the free-agent market has been a hot topic throughout the offseason, and now that we're in 2018 and only two of the top 12 free agents -- Wade Davis and Carlos Santana -- have signed deals, many are wondering when players such as Yu Darvish, Jacob Arrieta, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez will find homes for next season and beyond.
The slow market was initially blamed on the Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani situations, but both of those were resolved prior to last month's Winter Meetings. So what's causing the holdup?
"Based on conversations, I think there's something to the new GM-type," one agent said. "They are smarter and less emotional."
A second agent echoed those sentiments, saying that "disciplined and smart GMs" were the primary reason for the slow-moving market, though he also cited the Competitive Balance Tax as a factor as big-market teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers are working to enter the season below the $197 million threshold.
Over the years, players have traditionally preferred to sign before the holidays, but the fact that the entire market is moving slowly has made it more palatable to the unsigned free agents.
"With so many players unsigned, it's easy not to take it personally," one agent said.
So when will the free-agent dominoes begin to fall? One GM thinks it could start by the end of next week.
"I think things will ramp up mid-January," the GM said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see a bunch of signings after the salary-arbitration deadline [on Jan. 12]. … People will be focused on arbitration through next week; once that date passes, people can turn their attention back to free agents."