Red Sox deal for Manny Machado frozen in place by Orioles’ demands
By Earl Nash
Why are the Red Sox and other teams getting a cold shoulder from the Orioles for a Manny Machado trade? A look at possible reasons.
Like Red Sox Nation under a Nor’easter, Dave Dombroski’s effort to trade for Manny Machado is frozen and stalled while his wheels are spinning hopelessly.
Why have the Baltimore Orioles turned a cold shoulder toward potential trade partners?
There are three possible reasons:
- They are asking too much.
- They are waiting for the salary-arbitration deadline [on Jan. 12].
- They would rather see where they stand in July.
According to John Feinsand at MLB.com, the Orioles want two controllable starting pitchers.
If that means they are expecting a team to peel off two starters from their five-man rotation who are under contract for a few years, they have flown to Berkeley, California to imbibe in some newly legal marijuana products.
If they would settle for a No. 5 rotation guy and another starter from the 40-man roster, they might be getting more offers; accepting two highly-ranked pitching prospects would draw still more takers.
Eduardo Rodriguez, the No. 5 starter in the Red Sox rotation, is out of the question since he sidelined for up to 6 months following knee surgery.
Knuckle baller, Steven Wright, No. 6 on the SP depth chart, put up some dismal numbers last season:
His controllable status is tied to arbitration, until 2021:
2018 Contract Status: 1st-Year Arb Eligible
Service Time (01/2018): 3.089 • Arb Eligible: 2018 • Free Agent: 2021
But, what if Baltimore is willing to take two pitching prospects who are on the bubble for MLB status?
We can rule out top prospect, Jason Groome, who is just 19 and years from MLB status; besides the LHP was the Sox No. 1 draft pick in 2016.
Moving down the Sox prospect rankings from MLB.com, we can skip No. 2, third baseman Michael Chavis and No. 3, first baseman Sam Travis.
The next three slots are SP prospects with controllable salaries:
Tanner Houk, RHP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
"“Houck had one of the best fastball packages in the 2017 Draft. His heater not only sits at 92-96 mph and tops out at 98, but it also features plenty of sinking and boring action and he commands it well. He misses a lot of bats with his fastball and hitters generate a lot of weak contact when they manage to connect with it.”"
Alex Scherff, RHP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
"“Scherff pairs his fastball with one of the better changeups in the 2017 high school class, delivering it with deceptive arm speed and fade. His breaking pitches aren’t as impressive, with his slider grading better than his curveball and showing the potential to become an average offering. He throws a reasonable amount of strikes but doesn’t have the smoothest delivery, leading some scouts to project him as a reliever in the long run.”"
Mike Shawaryn, RHP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
"“Shawaryn has a solid three-pitch repertoire and generates good life on his offerings from a low three-quarters arm slot. His fastball usually runs from 90-94 mph, though it dipped as low as 86-88 mph early last spring. His sweeping slider might be his best offering, missing bats against both lefties and righties, and he also has feel for a deceptive changeup with fade.”"
Although the Orioles might take all three Red Sox prospects, or a pair from another team, if they are trading away their starting third baseman, Machado, who would likely shift to shortstop for the Sox, who are committed to Rafael Devers at the hot corer, Baltimore would want to get back a shortstop or third baseman in any trade.
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This points to Xander Bogaerts in any trade with the Orioles for Machado.
Would Baltimore settle for the three RHP prospects, Houk, Scherff, and Shawaryn and Bogaerts for Machado?
The second reason the Machado deal is in the deep freeze is the salary-arbitration deadline [on Jan. 12]. Baltimore may want to wait to see the cost of potential future Orioles.
The third reason that Baltimore is not warming to a deal is that they would rather see where they stand in July. If they are in the hunt for a postseason slot, they may want to keep Machado for the duration of the season to make a run at the World Series.
More likely, the Orioles are not in the chase and ready to deal Machado. By waiting that long, they reduce the value of their superstar by making him a half-season rental, as he becomes a very expensive free agent in 2019.
Next: Red Sox should not trade for Manny Machado
It is hard to imagine that any MLB team would be willing to rip two SPs from their rotation to acquire Machado for a single campaign and, if they are holding out for that kind of deal, the Orioles may be signaling that they are not just cool, but downright cold, toward making any trade.