WASHINGTON — The MLB non-waiver trade deadline passed on Monday, and the Baltimore Orioles are one of 26 clubs that the Washington Nationals did not do a deal with, even though the Nats were rumored to be interested in O’s closer Zach Britton.
In his Wednesday call with The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo shed some light on the situation, denying that anything other than baseball is considered for deadline deals.
“[Orioles general manager] Dan Duquette is a smart guy. I worked for him in Boston and he’s done a great job with the Orioles, and they know what they’re doing there,” Rizzo said. “I would say that it would be a bad business move for Baltimore not to trade with Washington, and Washington not to trade with Baltimore, just because of a geographical proximity.”
But anyone paying attention to baseball knows that this is about way more than just geographical proximity. Here are three other reasons:
1. MASN Dispute: The feud dates back to the founding of the Nationals, owned by Major League Baseball and moved from Montreal to the heart of Orioles territory. In exchange, Orioles owner Peter Angelos was given a sweetheart deal that gives him ongoing rights to the Nats’ TV broadcast as part of his Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
The terms of the deal have been contested in court dating back at least three years, hinging heavily on $300 million in rights fees that the Nationals claim is owed to them by Angelos and MASN. In the most recent development, just two weeks before the trade deadline, a New York appellate court ruled in the Nationals’ favor.
Keep in mind that Angelos is a professional trial lawyer who made lots of money by not losing in court. He has also earned a reputation for interfering in front office matters, both with free agents and potential trades. There is every reason to believe that he could have nixed a potential deal with the Nats and Rizzo would have never known about it.
But Rizzo doesn’t think that’s the case. Or at least he won’t say it publicly.
2. Phantom Rain Delays: The Nats and O’s got into a bit of a meteorological dispute earlier this season, with Rizzo and Orioles skipper Buck Showalter mincing words in the media about Rizzo’s decision to delay a game without rain.
“Their GM (Dan Duquette) was nowhere to be found for three, four hours. We wanted to play the next (mutual off) day,” Rizzo told the media at the time. “They refused to play then, so the next (mutual) day was (Thursday). They drove 32 miles to get there. We flew 3,000 (expletive) miles (from Los Angeles), and we beat their asses. So quit your whining. Quit whining.”
3. Digging Duquette: At one time last spring, Duquette was rumored to be a candidate to fill a job in the Nationals front office, while he was still under contract with the Orioles. While he denied the rumor at the time, it’s possible that this would create further tension between Angelos and the Nats.
Suffice it to say that this is more than a simple geographic rivalry.
“If they had a deal that they thought would work for them, then they’d have to make it and they would make it, because it’s good business,” Rizzo reasoned to the Sports Junkies. “As I’ve always said when we talk about trades, it’s more about what I get than what I give in a trade.
“If I get what I want and what I need, and it helps me get to where I want to get, then I’ve made a successful trade and I think that they’d be in the same situation.”