By Thomas Albano
The Manny Machado Sweepstakes appears to be coming to an end, and after weeks of discussion and wonder, it seems he’s off to Hollywood (for now).
As reported by Ken Rosenthal during the FOX broadcast of Major League Baseball’s 89th Annual All-Star Game, the signs are pointing more and more likely that Machado will be wearing the Dodger blue within the coming hours. This would make the All-Star Game Machado’s final appearance in an Orioles uniform.
Can report with more certainty: Machado to #Dodgers happening. Among remaining questions, in addition to specifics of return beyond OF Yusniel Diaz: How much money, if any, #Orioles will send #Dodgers to secure a better package and help ease LAD’s luxury-tax concerns.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 18, 2018
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 18, 2018
The supposed deal being floated around the baseball community right now would see five Dodgers prospects being sent to Baltimore in exchange for Machado. Prospective players were a big key in negotiations the Orioles have had for Machado — the Brewers, Phillies and Yankees were all considered realistic possible landing points for the shortstop.
yusniel diaz, believed to be the centerpiece of the deal from the orioles’ perspective, according to one scout is “an absolute stud.” hit 2 dingers in futures game, many tools.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 18, 2018
seeing speculation top rhp pitching prospect dustin may may be in the machado deal. but I have heard the dodgers rejected that request early on. they wanted to keep both may and ss gavin lux. can think of no reason why that would change. diaz is the centerpiece for o’s.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 18, 2018
If the trade talks with LA hold up, this marks the end of trade speculation that has gone on since the offseason. Machado, who is set to become a free agent in the offseason, looked like he could have been traded prior to the first pitch of the 2018 season. However, possible trade talks fell through when, supposedly, Orioles Owner Peter Angelos refused to grant a window to negotiate a possible extension for Machado.
This all comes at a time when Baltimore appears to be at the point of selling and rebuilding. At the 2018 All-Star Break, the Orioles sit last in the AL East at 28-69, 38.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, and bad enough for the second-worst record in the American League (the worst record is currently held by the Kansas City Royals with 27-68). This represents quite the downfall the team has had between 2012 and 2016 — which saw three post-season appearances, including 2014, when the team won the AL East and reached the American League Championship Series.
Now the only question that seems to remain (and as of the time of this writing, most insiders seem to be quiet about) is what prospects will be sent over to Baltimore. Some Dodger fans in replies to Heyman’s tweet seem to be disappointed over the haul being received.
But regardless, I think this was the best trade, or at least one of two, possible for all sides. Let’s break it down by process of elimination:
Trade with Phillies: If a trade between the O’s and Phillies involving Machado happened, I may not be afraid to call it one of the worst deals in MLB history. The Phillies definitely have great prospects, but they’re not as developed as, say, the Braves’ or the Yankees’. So, for the Orioles, it may take a little longer to get back to success. And as for Philadelphia, they would probably just give Atlanta the NL East and have little chance at a World Series title — then Machado leaves for a big-market team. Then you could say they’re trusting the process (again).
Trade with Yankees (and let’s just throw in Astros and Red Sox here): For the longest time, the Yankees would not put a top-10 prospect from their farm system in the deal. Reports did seem to surface later on as talks went up, and while Machado could be a boost to an already powerful Yankees lineup, there’s a potential theory here — the Yankees’ concern wasn’t to land Machado necessarily, but rather keep the Astros and Red Sox from getting him. It’s a battle of top control in the AL among these three teams, the Yankees and Sox especially.
I had said in last week’s Unspoken Podcast that in order to acquire Machado at the deadline, Brian Cashman would have to look himself in the eye and come to terms that he’d lose big prospects and be forced to make Machado his offseason. Now, looking at it, he may have been willing to do that than see the Astros or Red Sox grab him and likely make a World Series run. But now, with Machado heading to the National League, the Yankees can focus on much more important needs — like a starter — and focus on signing a check for Machado in the offseason. Besides, gaining Machado would cause more of a logjam — something the Yankees really don’t need more of at the moment.
Trade with Brewers: Now a trade with the Brewers may be a perfect substitute if somehow a deal with the Dodgers suddenly fell through. In fact, a recent MLB.com article from Jon Morosi debated which team would make for a more appropriate trade, and he sided with a Brewers trade. Morosi’s reasoning is that Milwaukee would be able to provide more for the Orioles due to the Brewers’ depth. Morosi suggests Milwaukee offer a starter like Luis Ortiz or the recently called up Corbin Burnes, as well as an outfielder. Both would benefit the O’s, as their starting rotation is atrocious and outfielder Adam Jones also has a contract expiring at the end of the season.
But, with a trade with the Dodgers, not all is lost. In fact, it could be considered good on the Dodgers part to grab Machado for at least a few months after losing Corey Seager to Tommy John Surgery earlier in 2018. And even if Machado goes to the Yankees, it can be a situation that rings back to when Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were dealt to the Cubs and Indians, respectively, in 2016. Both teams went on to play in the World Series, and Chapman won a ring and helped break a long-standing curse before returning to The Bronx for 2017.
The only downside for LA is not only losing prospects, but a World Series run is not guaranteed considering the NL West is a tight race involving everyone but the San Diego Padres. Plus, pitching may prove to be its downfall with an injury-riddled and arguably underperforming ace in Clayton Kershaw, as well as a similarly struggling bullpen that went from one of the best in the majors to “meh” in months’ time. So, they can’t just sit with Machado as the deadline approaches.
Regardless, this move involving Machado makes for a really interesting start on the path towards baseball’s 2018 Trade Deadline.