Despite Reasonable Return, the Baltimore Orioles Lost the Manny Machado Trade

The Baltimore Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Lost Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. (Graphic via @masnOrioles on Twitter)

It didn’t have to end this way.

The Baltimore Orioles, who have four winning records since the 1998 season, didn’t have to trade the most talented player in the franchise’s history. But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday.

The O’s traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, receiving five prospects in return. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com, is the headliner and looks to be at minimum an everyday starter in the future. The Orioles also acquired infielders Breyvic Valera and Rylan Bannon and pitchers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop.

Given that Machado is a free agent at the end of the season, it seems like quite a haul. Still, the Orioles lost this trade.

The chickens have come home to roost. The Orioles’ mismanagement and poor decision making has turned the team into a laughing stock. And it didn’t have to be this way.

The Orioles could have locked up Machado years ago. When the Angels realized Mike Trout was on his way to becoming the best player in baseball, they didn’t wait until they were forced to trade him for prospects. The Angels signed him to a six-year, $144.5 million deal when Trout was just 22 years old.

Instead of treating Machado like the budding superstar he was, the Orioles played hardball. General manager Dan Duquette and the front office lowballed Machado, offering him a deal worth “well below $100 million” according to Fancred MLB insider Jon Heyman. The O’s dragged their feet.

As Baltimore fumbled the Machado situation, they locked up Chris Davis with a seven-year, $161 million contract in 2016. Since the deal, Davis has turned into one of the worst hitters in the league, striking out 530 times in 365 games. Davis hasn’t hit higher than .221 since the deal and this season, has just nine homers and 28 RBIs in 80 games this season.

Meanwhile, the Orioles let the former face of the franchise Nick Markakis walk in 2015 for a cool $44 million over four seasons. Markakis started his first All-Star game this week and is hitting .323 this season. Nelson Cruz left for Seattle for $57 million over four years and since joining the Mariners, Cruz has hit 148 home runs and been named an All-Star in three of the last four seasons.

By backing up the Brinks truck for Davis and letting Markakis and Cruz walk, the Orioles ballooned their payroll while making the team worse. A tight payroll combined with a 28-69 record at the All-Star break is no formula for re-signing your 26-year-old superstar.

The Orioles are now faced with a full rebuild. Duquette addressed the media after trading Machado on Wednesday, saying that the organization was ushering in a new era of front office practices.

Thanks Dan, I appreciate the changes. You’re about two or three years too late to decide to run the front office correctly, but good job. Hopefully Duquette won’t be the one running this rebuild.

It didn’t have to be this way, but this is the new reality for Orioles fans. We’ll likely have to see Zach Britton and Adam Jones playing for other teams in the near future, with the latter being nearly unbearable. We’ll also have to watch Machado play elsewhere and wonder just what could have been.

Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

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