What if Manny Machado was extended and not traded from Baltimore?

Orioles fans across the country are excited with the potential that their current team possesses.

With Rookie of the Year favorite Gunnar Henderson expected to have an impact this year, Jackson Holliday turning heads at the age of 19 and Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz creating an exciting log jam of infield riches, it makes you wonder how this all became possible.  

Of course, everyone’s first guess would be great drafting and scouting by O’s GM Mike Elias and his team. This would not be a lie.  

We would honestly have to reach back further and look at one Manny Machado for the unfolding of where the Orioles are today.

We bonded with Machado as he took the AL by storm and were left heartbroken when the shoe fell, sending him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five prospects. 

We got seven strong years from the young phenom, as he brought hope, comparisons to past fielding legends and a swagger that oozed excitement. He was the next big superstar for the Orioles.

Over his seven seasons in Baltimore, Machado slashed .283/.335/.487. He collected almost a thousand hits in 860 games and hit 162 home runs and 197 doubles, stole 47 bases and drove in 471 runs. 

That leads us to the question of what if Machado was never traded and actually signed an extension with Baltimore. We will be good sports and say that former O’s GM Dan Duquette convinced the Angelos family to doll out some cash, and Machado was given an eight-year, $200 million deal. 

This is going on the aspect of Duquette locking Machado down a couple of years before free agency, so we will say after the 2014 season. This, in turn, changes a lot of dominos that fell after the Machado trade. One of the big pieces that will be retained because of this signing is outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year, $48 million deal. 

This is integral because keeping Markakis stabilizes right field for at least another four years. This means the likes of Mark Trumbo, Hyun-Soo Kim, Joey Rickard and Seth Smith might have never made it to the Orioles. It’s quite possible that the choice to select Anthony Santander in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft never happens either.

With Machado remaining with the Orioles, we would assume that the Orioles would not have re-signed J.J. Hardy, allowing Machado to move back to shortstop for the 2015 season and beyond. Because of this move, the Orioles might have been less obliged to draft Ryan Mountcastle in the first round in 2015. 

This domino, of course, would prevent Mountcastle from ever playing left field and eventually becoming the Orioles’ everyday first baseman. This would have left the O’s jumping into the free agent pool to sign a left fielder.

Knowing former O’s manager Buck Showalter and Duquette, they would have signed a splash contract, so we will guess that the front office went out and signed outfielder Melky Cabrera to a four-year deal around $52 million. Now left field is secured until 2018, as well as Markakis in right and Adam Jones in center. 

This brings us to the infield. We know that Manny is staying and will eventually be moving to short. The problem with this is that the Orioles now have a hole at third base. Duquette was never one for drafting well and developing players, and he enjoyed trading away to acquire needs or go to “plan-b” free agents.   

Looking into the 2015 free agent pool at third base, Asdrúbal Cabrera is just the type of player that Duquette would covet. Since this is only a short-term fix, we are guessing a three-year deal in the $27 million range. Now we have third base locked up until after the 2018 season.  

So what about first base and the impending free agency of Chris Davis? Well, since the Orioles already signed Machado long-term, we know Davis wants a long-term deal as well, which is now out of the realm of possibility because of money spent locking up Machado and Markakis, along with the signings of the Cabreras.

Davis will end up walking because the organization now can’t afford his demands. Therefore, the O’s will trade Davis during the 2015 season. The best suitor for would be the Colorado Rockies, as they did want Davis at one point.

With the Rockies able to get a younger power hitter, they would be willing to trade Justin Morneau to Baltimore.

Upon receiving the 33-year-old Morneau, Duquette would extend him another two years at $13 million a year. The club would also bring up Trey Mancini to eventually take over first, with Morneau moving to DH. The infield is almost locked in, leaving second base as the option left to develop. 

One of Machado’s best friends is Jonathan Schoop. The young and smooth-fielding second baseman is under team control already, and he brings stability to the position, so the organization doesn’t need to pursue anyone else.  

The way this team is constructed, the Orioles would remain in good standing at least through the 2018 season. Because of this, the Orioles would be inclined to extend both Duquette and Showalter at least through the 2019 season to see if they could keep the magic alive.  

The 2016 season would see the Orioles’ lineup look a little something like this:

1. Nick Markakis RF
2. Melky Cabrera LF
3. Manny Machado SS
4. Adam Jones CF
5. Jonathan Schoop 2B
6. Justin Morneau DH
7. Trey Mancini 1B
8. Asdrúbal Cabrera 3B
9. Caleb Joseph C

Not a bad lineup, to say the least. Of course, there would be a few small pieces here and there for rotation and bench roles, as pitching was always the puzzle Duquette never quite got totally right.  

The way this plays out would eliminate Mike Elias from becoming the Orioles GM in late 2018. This would mean Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers likely would never be drafted by the Orioles. 

Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall were pitchers that were drafted by Duquette, but who knows where the O’s would be drafting with this new team in place. But, for the heck of it, let’s say the organization still lands these two pitchers anyway.

John Means would more than likely not make his debut for the team in 2018. The entire dynamic of the team would have been changed, making for an interesting few years but also leaving the Orioles in an albatross come the 2019 season.

By 2019, there would be at least seven free agents who were starters. Duquette failed to utilize the international market and had a reputation of trading away most of the talent we obtained.

To help fill holes, Duquette resorted to bottom to mid tier free agents, traded away aging talent and left the farm system as one of the worst in baseball.

One signing would have changed the entire complexion of the Baltimore Orioles, and we would not be anywhere near where we are today. The point of this is to show possibilities but also to help us, as fans, appreciate how one piece can change the entire direction of a franchise.

We will always hold a special place in our hearts for Manny Machado, but it was him not signing long-term that brought us players such as Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser and Jackson Holliday.

One move, one decision is all it takes.

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Which scenario would you have preferred to happen? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SRJHeckman

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