Manny Machado will be the most oft-discussed player in baseball from now until the point that he’s ultimately traded, and Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said for the second time this month that interest in the free-agent-to-be is greater than it was when the O’s made him available in the offseason (link via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).
“There are some teams that are in the market for help on the left side of the infield and some are looking for a shortstop and some are looking for a third baseman,” said Duquette. The asking price on Machado, of course, figures to be fairly steep — and the sheer volume of teams who could show interest can only help the Orioles. Kubatko notes that controllable starting pitching is a known priority for the Orioles, as is finding a potential replacement for Machado.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that, among the teams with interest in Machado, the Dodgers are perceived by some in the industry as the favorites to land Machado. Los Angeles has gone 26-10 to surge back up the ranks in the National League West, and they’ve done so without the benefit of star young shortstop Corey Seager, whose season ended back in May when he required Tommy John surgery. Machado could step into that void, of course, and provide a massive upgrade at the plate while freeing Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez to bounce around the diamond.
Per Nightengale, the O’s have placed a heavy focus on scouting the Dodgers’ minor league system. However, there are numerous other clubs at least keeping tabs on Machado, per the report, including the Phillies, the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. There’s also industry speculation that the NL Central-leading Brewers could jump into the mix, given their aggressive offseason, an expected tight race in the division and the struggles of Orlando Arcia. And, of course, other clubs could yet emerge as potential suitors. The Angels, for instance, learned today that they’ve likely lost Zack Cozart for the rest of the year due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder that will require surgery.
One of those clubs, the Diamondbacks, has a particularly compelling case to add Machado to its ranks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic explores. With A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin up for free agency following the season and Paul Goldschmidt only controlled through 2019, Piecoro argues that the Diamondbacks will never have a better chance to win with this core of players than they do right now. The front office has already been aggressive in acquiring Brad Boxberger, Jon Jay and Steven Souza Jr. (even if that move has yet to pay dividends), and it would indeed seem curious to take the metaphorical foot off the gas pedal now.
The Machado sweepstakes, clearly, will be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow this summer and again in free agency. There’s no clear timetable for when a trade might come together, but Duquette didn’t mince words when acknowledging that his club has “declared as sellers” and suggesting that there’s a “more defined” market for Machado this time around. Nightengale does note, though, that one Orioles exec predicted that based on the manner in which the market is coming together, it’s possible that Machado could be moved before the All-Star break.