Photo courtesy of NBC Sports
By: Ross Sutton
Manny Machado has come out of the gates red hot this season and has shown the league that his low batting average last year was just a fluke. Through his first 40 games this season, Machado is hitting .350 with 13 home runs, 38 RBIs and a whopping 1.100 OPS. Machado’s transition back to shortstop clearly has had absolutely no negative effect on his offensive production as he is hitting anything thrown his way right now. The Orioles front office must be thrilled about Machado’s play in 2018 as they will likely trade him before the deadline at the end of July as he is a free agent this winter and the Orioles need more young talent, especially pitching, in order to contend in the AL East. As Machado looks more and more like a top five player in the league, his trade value will continue to rise. This then begs the questions of “what teams could land Machado?” as well as “what would a team have to give up for Machado?”. So here are my thoughts on what teams I believe are most likely to get Machado and what I think they would have to give the Orioles in return for the superstar shortstop.
One team that I believe could pull off a trade for Machado is the Dodgers. They have an obvious need at shortstop as Corey Seager is out for the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and they would greatly benefit from having Machado down the stretch of the regular season and during the playoffs (if the Dodgers can straighten things out). The biggest obstacle around a deal between the Dodgers and Orioles for Machado is money. The Dodgers have the money, but they seem to be unwilling to go over the luxury tax this season, and a deal for Machado would likely put them over the $197M threshold. The Orioles could always decide to pay enough of Machado’s remaining salary in order to make a deal work, but they would have to be getting a pretty valuable haul of prospects in return if they were to do that. So assuming the Orioles would pay some of Machado’s remaining salary (which is not guaranteed by any sense), I think the Dodgers would have to give up a package that includes players such as pitcher Mitchell White, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, and pitcher Yadier Alvarez. Mlb.com currently has those players ranked as the fourth, fifth, and eighth best prospects in the Dodgers organization, respectively. I believe that the Orioles might accept a deal like this because they desperately need more young pitching and outfielder Yusniel Diaz is a top 100 prospect and the Orioles could lose center fielder Adam Jones in free agency this winter. I assume the Dodgers would not be willing to give up top prospects Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo, considering they would only have control of Machado for the last two months of the regular season and the playoffs before he hits free agency this winter.
The Cubs could also have the assets needed to pull off a trade for Machado, as they have previously expressed a willingness to trade shortstop Addison Russell in order to the strengthen their lineup. If the Cubs made a trade of this magnitude, they would be trying to put themselves over the top in order to return to the World Series. The biggest obstacle in a potential deal between the Cubs and Orioles is the fact that the Cubs do not have a lot of talented young pitchers in their organization and the Orioles really need some pitching in return for Machado. Therefore, I think if the two teams were to make a deal for Machado, the Cubs would have to trade Addison Russell, as well as two pitchers from their system. Since the Cubs do not have any prospects in the top 100, they might be willing to trade top prospect Adbert Alzolay as well as another pitcher such as Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Brendon Little, or Thomas Hatch. If the Cubs offered the Orioles two or three of these pitchers as well as Addison Russell, the two teams might agree to a deal.
Both the Dodgers and Cubs stand to benefit greatly from a deal including Machado, but the team that I believe has the best chance to land Machado is the Phillies. The Phillies have a great young group of players in the majors right now that seem to be the real deal and they will likely look to become World Series contenders next season. The Phillies also have a lot of cap space due to all of the young talent on the major league roster, so taking on the rest of Machado’s salary this season would not be an issue. But the most important part of facilitating a trade between the two teams is the fact that Phillies have a very talented farm system with enough pitching to make the Orioles interested in a deal. The reason the Phillies have so much to gain from a potential deal for Machado is that if they can pull of a trade and then sell Machado on the direction the organization is going in and the town of Philadelphia itself, then maybe Machado would decide to re-sign with the Phillies in the offseason when he is a free agent. I believe that a deal centered around players such as third baseman Maikel Franco, pitcher Sixto Sanchez, and pitcher Adonis Medina would be accepted by both teams. This deal makes sense to me because the Orioles would be getting good young pitchers that are the number 25 and 82 prospects in the MLB in Sanchez and Medina, respectively. The Orioles would also get a young third baseman in Maikel Franco which would allow the Orioles to put third baseman Tim Beckham back to his natural position at shortstop. If Franco was part of this trade, then the Phillies could move Scott Kingery to third base since Machado seems hell-bent on playing shortstop over the next few years of his career. If the Phillies are in contention for one of the two Wild Card spots come the trade deadline, they might be inclined to trade their top two pitching prospects in order to get into the playoffs and show Machado how great it is to be on an exciting young team that has high hopes for the next few years.
Stats and prospect rankings courtesy of mlb.com
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