The Orioles don’t have a deal with Vladimir Guerrero, as Jim Bowden reported Saturday, but they are at least looking into signing the aging slugger.
The Baltimore front office undoubtedly spent the weekend sorting out positives and negatives. Vlad might hit well at Camden Yards, but bringing him aboard would mean moving Luke Scott to the outfield, where he hasn’t played regularly since 2008 because of issues with range. Then there’s the other side, suggesting that it might be worth the potential power surge if Guerrero is willing to take an incentive-driven contract with a low base salary. But the Rangers are also thought to have some interest and the Angels could be open to a reunion, so it’s possible that his asking price hasn’t completely tumbled into a desperation level.
Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun was exploring the pros and cons this morning over on his blog “The Schmuck Stops Here.”
If the price is right, I think Guerrero would be a low-risk gamble with a high upside. If he can jack up one more season like last year, he could be the final piece in a potentially explosive batting order that could truly change the subject at Oriole Park this summer.
Mark Reynolds might put together a good season, J.J. Hardy might bounce back, Nick Markakis could turn his power numbers north, Adam Jones could reach stardom and Matt Wieters may figure it out. If that all happens, the Orioles will greatly improve. But those are big “ifs” and there are a lot of them. Plus, there’s a ceiling for their success in the American League East anyway if things do finally go right.
The O’s have the ability to make strides and the addition of Guerrero could help fill a few more seats at one of baseball’s best ballparks. Maybe that’s worth it. But it seems more likely that it will be a waste of the club’s financial resources. Pumping that money into the draft and the international market would be wiser.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.