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Inbox: Can anything be done to keep Manny?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers O's fans' questions
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

As the new year approaches, let's delve into some of your lingering questions one more time in 2017…

Tell me why I keep reading that we can't pay Manny Machado? What about a front-loaded contract and give him an opt-out at age 29/30 season? I know O's brass doesn't like opt-outs, but we have near zero leverage at this point.
-- Daryll, Seattle 

As the new year approaches, let's delve into some of your lingering questions one more time in 2017…

Tell me why I keep reading that we can't pay Manny Machado? What about a front-loaded contract and give him an opt-out at age 29/30 season? I know O's brass doesn't like opt-outs, but we have near zero leverage at this point.
-- Daryll, Seattle 

I know a lot of fans are upset about the Orioles writing off Machado as good as gone. But there's a ton of reasons -- that I've gone over many times, as have others -- as to why they can't lock up Machado long-term. Machado, 25, is expected to get record money on the free-agent market, and the O's can't support that kind of deal. I don't care who you think you can trade off the current roster to save a few million here or there, it's not enough.

As for a front-loaded contract with an opt-out like you suggest, it's a nice scenario to pay Machado to have him a few more years. But from his perspective why wouldn't you sign a mega-deal when you're young and stock is up? He's so close to free agency and his camp has made it known for a few years that was the direction they wanted to go. A deal is not getting done. Sorry.

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Put Manny to the side for a moment. What about re-signing Jonathan Schoop now and begin making him the face of the O's?
-- Mike, Kingsville, Md. 

There's something the Orioles would be very wise to consider. Schoop, 26, is coming off a career year, has one more season of arbitration after Machado departs and should be more cost effective. He's a great team guy, and I could easily see him developing into more and more of a leader. There haven't been any serious talks between the O's and Schoop, though that should be -- in my opinion -- a priority after they figure out who's on this year's roster. They can't afford to watch Schoop have another monster year and be in the same boat as Machado -- a year away from free agency. The sooner the better.

Video: NYY@BAL: Schoop clubs his 31st homer into the bullpen

Would the Orioles really have Zach Britton start again?
-- Sean L., Washington, D.C.

I don't think we see that day. Yes, they approached him about it this offseason -- as first reported by MASN -- but honestly, what's in it for Britton? He'll be sidelined until June or July right now but will still have time to boost his stock for pending free agency. Other teams know how good he can be in the ninth inning and he's not coming off an arm injury. Unless the Orioles offer him some serious money and length of deal, it'd be a lose-lose situation for Britton, costing him a chance to cash in on a relief market that has seen some big money in recent winters and put him in a situation where he hasn't had long-term success and could be even more susceptible to injury.

Britton doesn't want to be a starter again right now. It doesn't make sense for him to start games for the Orioles unless he gets a contract like a front-line starter. Sure, it was a scenario thrown out to him, but I'd be shocked if he and agent Scott Boras opted for that route. Look at elite closer to elite starter success stories. There aren't many.

Video: Best case for Britton is Wainwright-like recovery

I was wondering if the O's had plans on bring Ryan Flaherty back? Maybe put him at third base if/when they move Manny to short. Also if Manny goes to short where does that leave Tim Beckham?
-- Bryan S., Owings Mills, Md.

I haven't heard anything about Flaherty, though I know manager Buck Showalter definitely appreciates having a guy as versatile as Flaherty is on the bench. As for Machado moving to shortstop, if it happens it certainly will make things more complicated. Beckham has played third a handful of times. Schoop could also be moved to third and Beckham to second though you are weakening two spots if you do that. You could DH Beckham more -- move Chris Davis to third -- but then you are taking away at-bats from Mark Trumbo who is the primary DH. Also, I'm not sure Davis' shoulder would physically hold up over a season at third and Beckham would prefer to play the field and not DH. Basically, it's a little bit of a mess. I don't have a good answer for you.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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