As the Orioles continue to field offers for third baseman Manny Machado, they couldn't have been heartened when they saw what the Pittsburgh Pirates got in return for star outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the San Francisco Giants Jan. 15.
McCutchen, 31, was entering his final season under contract. The Pirates dealt the outfielder for Bryan Reynolds, a 22-year-old promising minor league outfielder, and Kyle Crick, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever who had a 3.06 ERA in 30 games with the Giants last season.
Pittsburgh also received $500,000 in international bonus slot money from the Giants and will pay $2.5 million of McCutchen's $14.75 million salary this season.
Had the Giants, who acquired star third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays during last month's Winter Meetings, made an offer to the Orioles for Machado similar to what they offered for McCutchen, they surely would have been turned away.
The Orioles have been looking for major league-ready starting pitching and a third baseman to replace Machado in a deal, and the players San Francisco dealt were at positions where the Orioles have some depth,
It may seem surprising that Pittsburgh got so little for McCutchen, a five-time All-Star and the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player, but players who are a year away from free agency -- which Machado is -- usually don't bring back much in return. As excellent a player as McCutchen has been, his value has diminished.
That's what the Orioles have found with Machado.
In the six weeks since word circulated that the Orioles would listen to offers for Machado, a number of teams have reportedly expressed interest in him, but none of the offers have seriously intrigued executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.
The Orioles apparently feel comfortable enough about Machado remaining with the club for the foreseeable future that he's on the list of players who'll be signing autographs at Orioles FanFest Jan. 27.
Machado will face questions about the trade, his free agency and his supposed interest in moving from third base to shortstop this season.
The Orioles could keep Machado and see how the 2018 season begins, and if they aren't competitive, trade him at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and hope for the best.
Machado and McCutchen are likely to be two of the most highly sought after free agents after the 2018 season. But, while both the Pirates and Orioles were willing to listen to offers for their longtime stars, there are some significant differences.
At 25, Machado is six years younger than McCutchen, who will move from center field to right for the Giants, and Pittsburgh, who traded a top-shelf starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros Jan. 13, is in a full rebuild.
While the Pirates traded two stars, the Orioles have only listened about their big one, and their fans can only hope that if Machado is traded, they'll get more in return than Pittsburgh just did.
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