Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette isn't rushing to trade star third baseman Manny Machado in the middle of what has been a Most Valuable Player Award-caliber year. But Duquette isn't ruling out a potential trade in the immediate or distant future, either.
Speaking on MLB Network Radio on Thursday, Duquette was candid about the Orioles' last-place standing in the American League East. They entered Thursday 16 games under .500 and 16 games back in the division. With many longtime staples -- such as Machado, center fielder Adam Jones and closer Zach Britton -- hitting free agency this winter, and with an underwhelming farm system, Baltimore appears to be on the cusp of a rebuild, and the club has long been linked to multiple trade rumors surrounding Machado, most prominently at the Winter Meetings last December.
"If you're going to revamp your club and get better for the future, as an organization, you might want to take a look at all the options and players that are valuable to you who might be more valuable in the trade market," Duquette said. "I don't know. We haven't really made that determination. That's another consideration.
"The other consideration is: What if Manny Machado is having an MVP season and he's on his way to the Triple Crown? Is that a player that a club wants to trade? Even though their season may not be a championship season this year? So, there's a lot of different questions for the organization to answer, but it's really about timing. How many good players can you have together at the same time? And can you keep them together for a period of time to give yourself a chance to go again for the playoffs?"
For an Orioles club that has had glaring issues across its rotation, lineup and defense, Machado has been the one bright spot. He entered Thursday hitting a club-best .342 (71 points better than second-best Trey Mancini), with an MLB-high 38 RBIs and 13 homers, tied for the MLB lead. Machado's 181 wRC+ are third best in the Majors behind only Mookie Betts and Michael Trout.
Because of his age -- Machado will be 26 in July -- and his elite power at a premium defensive position (he moved from third base, where he won two AL Gold Glove Awards, to shortstop, his natural position, this season), Machado is expected to net one of the most lucrative contracts in this winter's loaded free-agent class that will also include Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and potentially Clayton Kershaw, should he opt out. Machado is currently on a one-year, $16 million contract.
The topic of a Machado trade might be one that isn't settled until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But when asked if he'd be inclined to deal Machado sooner than later, should another club wow him with an offer, Duquette responded: "I enjoy watching Manny. I hope I can enjoy watching him play for a long time."
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that at least eight teams discussed Machado with the Orioles this winter, including the Phillies, Cardinals, White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, D-backs and Cubs, and at least a few of those could potentially remain in play for Machado's services this season.
The Dodgers make logistical sense, coming off a 104-win season and having lost star shortstop Corey Seager for the season due to Tommy John surgery. However, the club currently appears to fill Seager's void with internal options. The Cubs, who have struggled offensively and have proven to be aggressive on rental trades, might be potential players as well, per Heyman.