No one expects Manny Machado to be with the Baltimore Orioles after this season. Orioles have an opportunity to sign an adequate replacement for him, so they can trade him before the season without weakening the team too much. That signing would be Mike Moustakas.
Right now the answer at third base is Tim Beckham. Beckham had a great end of the season with the Orioles hitting .306 with 10 home runs in 50 games in Baltimore. I love Tim Beckham, but I don’t think he is the answer at third base. Beckham’s biggest knock has always been his defensive play.
At first glance, Manny and Tim have similar fielding numbers. Machado’s fielding percentage is only one point better than Beckham’s, however a lot of the errors Manny commits stem from him getting to balls he has no business getting to. Manny’s defensive runs saved is 83 runs above average for his career while Beckham’s is 10 runs below average.
Beckham has spent most of his career in the middle infield, and would likely be even worse defensively at third. He has spent limited time at third base in his career, playing 108 innings across the minors and majors. In 22 total chances he does only have one error, so hopefully I am wrong and he can hold his own.
I think that the Orioles best option would be to sign Mike Moustakas and deal Manny Machado. The Orioles would get a guy who would most likely put up Manny numbers on offense, and it would give them the flexibility to trade Machado instead of letting him go for nothing. Then even if they are not able to trade Machado, they have a proven third baseman and lefty bat to platoon with Beckham.
Moustakas at third and Beckham at short would give the Orioles more comfort in trading Manny for less than he is worth. The Orioles should be able to at least make an improvement to the rotation with a Machado trade. In my opinion, I think any improvement to the rotation is more important to the team than one more year of Machado.
Moustakas is no where near the defensive player that Machado is, but he is coming off a career year and has put up similar offensive numbers throughout his career.
Moustakas is coming off a year where he slashed .272/.314/.571 and hit 38 home runs with 85 RBI, and hitting in Camden Yards should bump his power numbers even more.
The only way this deal makes sense is if the Orioles are able to get Moustakas on a multi-year deal. The Orioles have been fans of cheap one year deals in the past with the likes of Nelson Cruz and Wellington Castillo. I’m both cases the players had great seasons and moved on elsewhere. If team is serious about long term success they need to lock down Moose for 3-5 years.
Todd Frazier, who had a worse year than Moose, just got a 2 year $17 million contract with the Mets. With that in mind, I think a good deal for Moostakas would be somewhere around 3 years $30 million contract with a club option for a fourth year.