Barring a miracle the Baltimore Orioles will not be making the playoffs this season. With that being said… In their possession is one of the best players in the game today, infielder Manny Machado. Many feel that his talents are being wasted in the Mid-Atlantic, and because of that Machado’s name has been heating up the rumor mill in recent weeks. Orioles management did try to move him during the Winter Meetings this past offseason, but nothing materialized.
This time however, the Orioles need to start thinking about the future and moving Machado to a contender would be a good start. The 25-year-old of Dominican decent is one of the top five hitters on the Orioles this season. He has a slash line of .343/.419/.652/1.070. He also leads his team in home runs (14), runs batted in (42), runs scored (26), hits (61) and total bases (116). He can hit for power when needed and plays both shortstop and third base. He’s a free agent at the end of the season so the Orioles are better off trading him now then to let him walk away in December for nothing.
There are quite a few teams who would love to get Machado in their clubhouse. But here are five teams in particular who could make the best use of his services….
The Chicago Cubs–
The 2016 World Champions are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the National League Central Division. The Cubs could be the top dog in the division if it weren’t for their 5-7 record in one-run games among other issues. And out of their 25 wins so far, 11 of them have been by three runs or less. They’ve also been held scoreless three times on the year; and during their season-high five-game losing streak from May 1st through May 6th, the Cubs were outscored 29-14.
So perhaps a slight offensive upgrade is what the Cubs need to put them back in the drivers seat. Their current third baseman Kris Bryant isn’t going anywhere, but current shortstop Addison Russell could be easier to move. Through 41 games Russell has an average slash line (.262/.352/.369/.721) with just one home run, 10 RBI’s and 37 total hits. So perhaps the Cubs could try to convince Baltimore to take Russell along with a minor league prospect and a draft pick in exchange for Machado.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein have never shied away from making a move in order to help the teams playoff chances. This would be one of those situations.
“(Machado) arguably would provide a solid two-way weapon that would not only warrant a postseason ticket, but also a conversation into another world series title if (the) team rounds up in full health mode,” says Cristian Moreno, a reporter for ESPN Deportes Radio.
While Machado would lend a major assist to the Cubs this season, how hard would it be to lock him up to a long-term deal?
“Well, the question on its own will be a tricky one for GM’s,” Moreno says. “Machado could become a legit star power material figure with the accolades he naturally has. On its own question would be if baseball culture would lend itself to fully have two stars on the same team with an attempted push for mainstream formula, something that one could argue the baseball culture has failed in versus say NFL and NBA,” he adds. “In said formula I could see a challenge of having both Bryant and Machado in town, plus I really do not see Machado as a fit for the Cubs culture under the current regime.”
Another team that could make use of Machado’s services is the Chicago White Sox. Chicago’s south side team is undergoing a long overdue rebuild. They currently boast a top five farm system full of players that will make the storied franchise competitive again over the next few years. At the same time, Sox general manager Rick Hahn has stated that he wouldn’t mind having a big name player to pair with those young prospects.
While Sox fans would love to see Machado in their teams uniform, but I doubt they’d want to blow up that beloved farm system in order to do it. Getting Machado in free agency may also be a tough sell.
“No disrespect to the Chi Sox, but I do not think they can even sell themselves on the mirror as far as rebuild as the ways into do not seem properly executed. I like the upside (that) Yoan Moncada (has) and I’m fully entertained in seeing if Michael Kopech can fulfill his potential on becoming an elite power-arm. Not much else to be excited in my view as far as rebuild of the team is projected,” says Moreno
One team that is hurting for a player of Machado’s caliber is the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 20-26 they were already having a tough season. Then on April 30th, things got worse when everyday shortstop Corey Seager announced that he needed season-ending Tommy John Surgery which is rare for a shortstop. The offense he provides is invaluable and now the Dodgers need to replace his production, could Machado be the solution?
The Dodgers do have some prospects they could send the Orioles way, but how would Machado fit in and could he turn this team around?
According to Cristian Moreno, “Trading for Machado could become an issue or a blessing. Machado has Hollywood in him, I think he will end up on a team that can provide him that kind of scene… So are you willing to pay big for this franchise dude and what do you do with Seager? Ask him to move to second this early in his career, or shoot to trade him?”
Another team looking to replace the loss of a big name is the Seattle Mariners. Robinson Cano’s 80-game suspension for PED use was a huge setback for this team who had previously held the top spot in the American League West. Now the M’s trail the Houston Astros by two full games, and losing the offense that Cano provided will sting for a while. Would the Mariners make the big splash and trade for Machado to jump start this team? And if so, is it the worth the risk?
“Well if you trade for Machado, what does that really do for Mariners?” Asks Moreno. “I just don’t see the squad being a legit contender, of course if they even make playoffs,” he added.
Finally, anytime you talk about a big trade the Boston Red Sox are always listening. This past weekend they just managed to catch the New York Yankees to have a first place tie in the American League East. Perhaps adding a player like Machado could help the Bo’ Sox pull ahead but would they do it?
“If the Sox act now and not in the offseason than what message is to be understood? They might end up paying a higher price if they do it now as they would be the ones in need this time around. But with ‘real’ teams you can never doubt they will pull the trigger in whatever situation if (it) fits,” Moreno says.
The bigger question though is would the Orioles put their pride aside and trade Machado to a division rival?
“To be honest, that whole thing of non-written rules is just that,” Moreno says. He continued, “I have never found a source of respect towards that kind of protocol. Heck if you can benefit from it, why not? That same team will be the one smacking you regardless until you build and really become legit. So why not trade and build a stronghold?”
While the latter three franchises would make use of Machado as a rental for a possible playoff push, one has to wonder whether or not they’d be able to sign him long-term. Cristian Moreno has some thoughts on that….
“Mariners slim to no chance, Dodgers could come second if not first as far as bringing Hollywood (to Machado’s) door, and (the) Red Sox could be interchangeable with LAD depending on how much Machado and his crew intend to honor his baseball love over his business capacity. Which (in the latter case) I believe L.A. would provide a more profitable fit.”
Things should get interesting as we move closer to the All-Star break.