With 32 percent of their roster free agency eligible, and New York poised to capture the East, the Baltimore Orioles have decisions to make much bigger than other borderline contenders. For one, some of the Orioles eligible to leave this winter, including Chris Davis and Wei-Yin Chen, could significantly impact where the future goes. Tommy Hunter, Matt Wieters and Steve Pearce are others who'll command paycheck increases during the off-season. But concentrating on the present, Baltimore could shop heartily within the next nine days because:
They're 3.5 games from wild card #2...
Mired in an awful 3-7 slump and playing the Yankees certainly won't help move Baltimore Orioles closer to playoff contention, but it doesn't hurt them either. What destroys Baltimore playoff hopes is having free agents needing re-signed, which could significantly drain cash reserves necessary to purchase big names outright before trade deadline. Which means they'll trade away what little talent their farm clubs has, or prognosticate their team's options for 2016.
...but, they may unload Chris Davis
The likelihood Baltimore retains Chris Davis' services dwindle with each loss. His numbers of late remind many of Adam Dunn (.238, 19, 53) since he's either hitting fastballs for souvenirs, or isn't hitting anything. He's still young (29) enough someone could rent him then sign him for five years next season when he's free agent extraordinaire, and has proven his ability to still knock in base runners. The decision whether they'll sell him to another contender better positioned to handle platooning him, or harbor his remaining salary, depend on whether the Orioles decide they're all-in or completely out.
Then there's this Manny Machado issue
Baltimore isn't going to keep Machado for $548,000 being paid to him this season. Ranking Top 10 in five key offensive categories at age 23, signing him to an extended contract which pays for his performance is weighing heavily on Buck Showalter's - and his bosses - minds. Rebuilding an entire army around Machado may prove more useful than keeping dead weight like J.J. Hardy around. But then again, the Baltimore Orioles are playing dead baseball, so therein lies another problem.
There are nine games until trade deadline activity will cease. The Baltimore Orioles gets two more with New York, three at Tampa Bay, come home for three against Atlanta then travel into Detroit for four games. Assuming they continue their current hitting miscues over the next week, expect Baltimore to sell their free agent eligible players. However, should an outrageous turn of events carries the Orioles into the playoff picture, perhaps some big names will come to assist in making the postseason.
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