Today is a good day for Orioles fans everywhere. An amazing win last night would normally be the explanation for this good feeling, but the reason I woke up with a smile on my face this morning was what happened at 11:57 – the signing of Manny Machado.
To say that the Machado deal wasn’t nerve-racking would be a lie. From 11:50 to when the deal was announced at 12:03, I was on BaltimoreSun.com and refreshing the page every 10 seconds hoping that there was different news.
The funny thing about how anxious I was is that I was actually anticipating this very timeline. Whether it be with Stephen Strasburg, Matt Wieters, Bryce Harper, or Machado, agent Scott Boras likes to have his clients push the deadline to the max. Hell, the fact the Machado signed three minutes before the deadline might be the earliest a Boras client has signed all year.
Now that the deadline has past, the Orioles management can rest knowing that they were brilliant in signing its draft picks. Overall, the O’s signed 39 of 49 draft picks, including eight of their nine picks in the first 10 rounds. The only player that elected to not sign was Dixon Anderson, who will return to the University of California.
Not only did the Orioles sign Machado yesterday right at the deadline, they were able to come to terms with seventh round selection Matt Bywater earlier in the evening.
While the Machado deal was a lot more dramatic, the Bywater signing was a bit more surprising because unlike with Machado – who the Orioles were expecting to eventually sign – we had been told that negotiations with Bywater were over and that he seemed content with returning to Pepperdine.
For teams like the Orioles, being successful in signing picks isn’t just important – it is vital to compete. Unlike the Yankees or the Red Sox, the Orioles don’t have the funds to go out and sign big names for hundreds of millions of dollars. Because of that, the Orioles’ success relies on management’s ability to draft well, sign its picks and develop them into stars.
Five years ago, the ability to win using this formula seemed impossible; however, ever since the Rays did it in 2008, it seems more and more possible.
With the Showalter era beginning, fans can only hope that the days of drafting in the Top 5 are done. Until that is the case though, the O’s need to take advantage of the opportunities available by drafting well and signing those picks.