The Orioles are reportedly receiving calls from multiple clubs on third baseman Manny Machado this winter, according to FanRag's Jon Heyman. Heyman notes that the club is not exactly shopping the All-Star, but Baltimore is "willing to listen" on offers for any player in the organization.
According to Heyman, the Orioles are debating whether or not to extend Machado longterm before free agency. He notes that a failed attempt at an extension may motivate Baltimore to deal their three-time All-Star, and names the Yankees and Phillies as potential targets (based on pure speculation).
Machado, 25, struggled through a brutally unlucky 2017 in which his BABIP suffered despite maintaining solid hard-hit and line-drive averages. A hot second half normalized Machado's final numbers somewhat, but his .259/.310/.471 slashline was still a tick below the level of dominance we've seen from the six-year veteran during his career.
Few clubs are worried about Machado going forward, and his strong finish to 2017 only eased concern. Even if his bat never returns to the 130 OPS+ threshold he hit in both 2015 and 2016, Machado is one of the best defensive third baseman in all of baseball. A two-time Gold Glove winner, Machado should have teams salivating for his services as both a trade target and a free agent over the next two offseasons.
With Machado and star closer Zach Britton both set to enter free agency after the season, the Orioles are facing a looming question: will they finally commit to rebuilding? While the Orioles were widely rumored to be aggressively shopping Britton at last year's trade deadline, not only did Baltimore hold onto Britton, they shocked the baseball world—and not in a good way—by adding big-league pieces Jeremy Hellickson and Tim Beckham.
Neither of the acquisitions had longterm implications, but the club has failed to add significant talent to the organization as their core players prepare to leave. In a tough AL East controlled by the Red Sox and Yankees, Baltimore's competitive window may be closing quickly. Dealing Machado may send the Orioles to the division cellar for a few years, but it should certainly restock a depleted minor-league system.