Having seen the Baltimore Orioles spend close to $250 million this offseason, third baseman Manny Machado remains hopeful that the spending binge could lead to a long-term extension. Still three years away from free agency, Machado will make $5 million in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He enters the 2016 season coming off the finest, healthiest season of his career. For the first time in three years, Machado will not enter spring training with a knee injury and subsequent recovery looming over his head. He played in all 162 games last year (the only player in the league to do so), hit 35 home runs, stole 20 bases, showed an increased maturity at the plate and on the field, made his second All-Star team, and won his second Gold Glove.
Speaking with reporters this morning, Machado expressed that he felt there is reason to hope he can stay with the team long-term.
“I mean there’s hope,” Machado said. “That brings out hope. I think this [Davis contract] is the biggest contract in Orioles history, so there’s hope there. I know they’ve got the money for it. I know Peter [Angelos] is trying to everything possible to bring a ring here, so whatever you have to do to bring a ring here you’ve got to lay it out on the field. It just brings me hope that they’re trying to keep everybody here and hopefully they can come up with something and we can make something happen.”
As Machado’s star continues its rapid ascension, the price for a long-term extension will only get higher. Knee injuries suffered in 2013 and 2014 made it difficult for the Orioles to commit to a lengthy deal. Those concerns are gone now, but the Orioles have just blown by all existing team records for offseason spending and payroll. A deal for Machado may not be feasible this year.
Looking further down the road, the Orioles have very few lengthy contracts that will run past Machado’s date with free agency. Ubaldo Jimenez and J.J. Hardy each have two years left on their contracts. Matt Wieters shocked the the front office by accepting his $15.8 million qualifying offer, and does not figure to be around after the end of this season. Chris Tillman still has a lot to prove before he can be considered part of the long-term plan. Adam Jones, the face of the franchise, will also be a free agent the same year as Machado.
Having paid out a whopping $161 million to Chris Davis, the Orioles have shown that they are indeed capable of opening the checkbooks to pay their own talent. Machado’s price tag, right now, is still up for debate. With only three years until free agency, he would likely be seeking something in the neighborhood of $20 million in average annual value.
Machado said similar things last year, but it’s refreshing to see him still hoping to get a long-term deal done with the Orioles. And like he said, with Davis’s recent deal, there’s hope.