Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
There's already a lot of star power on the Orioles roster. And like star power tends to do, it's only going to get more expensive.
The O's did the right thing with Adam Jones (pictured, left) and locked him up to a six-year, $85.5 million extension during the summer of 2012. That extension is a steal for a player with three All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger award, not to mention a strong clubhouse presence.
However, the team has a lot of players looking at free agency soon. J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis come off the books after the 2014 season, and the O's have some tough decisions to make with those two.
Should they extend Hardy a few more years and hope that he doesn't decline, as he'll be 32 before the 2014 season ends? Or do they move Manny Machado back to shortstop and find a new third baseman?
With Markakis, the decision is even tougher as the outfielder has failed to live up to the expectations that came with the six-year, $66.1 million extension that he signed in January of 2009.
He has a $17.5 million mutual option for 2015 with a $2 million buyout if the club declines, and to be quite honest, the outfielder would have to have a hell of a season in order to have the O's agree to pay him $17.5 million next year. Of course, that doesn't mean the two sides couldn't work out another deal.
It doesn't get any easier after that, as both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will be free agents after the 2015 season. There's no way the O's can afford both players while also fielding a competitive, well-rounded team, so look for those two to be heavily involved in trade discussions during the 2014-15 offseason as well as the trade deadline should the team be out of contention.
What's more, both players are represented by Scott Boras, who almost always takes his players to the open market, though there have been a few exceptions (Jered Weaver).
As both will likely command deals upward of $100 million (especially Davis if he continues to hit the way he did in 2013), it's quite possible the O's won't be able to hold on to either one unless they're willing to do what Weaver did and agree to a hefty hometown discount. But the team has to try to retain at least one and would be smart to flip the other for multiple pieces in a trade.
And of course, there's Manny Machado, who won't be eligible to become a free agent until 2019, but once he becomes eligible for arbitration in 2016, he'll get expensive in a hurry. The O's would be wise to sign him to an extension early and buy out his arbitration years much like the Tampa Bay Rays did with Evan Longoria in 2008, then worry about the big-money deal when the time comes.
The team will have to make sure it has some big money available for Machado, though.