SUNDAY: The Dodgers and Brewers are at the forefront of the Machado derby, and the Indians are also “in the mix,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.
SATURDAY: It’s possible Manny Machado’s tenure with the Orioles will come to an end as early as this weekend, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, who reports that seven teams have made offers for the soon-to-be free agent. The Dodgers have put forth the most enticing proposal, Encina hears, with the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Indians and Cubs (in that order) coming in behind them. But the offers are “very close” in value, per Encina, so any of those other six clubs could leapfrog Los Angeles to land Machado prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com passes along slightly different information than Encina, suggesting the Indians are currently in last place among the previously mentioned seven teams in the race for Machado. Cleveland has made an offer, Kubatko reports, but a source tells him other clubs are “more active” in the sweepstakes. Interest in Machado goes beyond the seven teams mentioned, Kubatko adds, as several others have at least “checked in” on him.
It “seems unlikely” Baltimore will deal Machado this weekend, Encina writes, but it’s all but guaranteed to happen sometime this month. After all, the Orioles (24-64) own the majors’ worst record, and they’ll either have to trade the 26-year-old Machado in the next three-plus weeks or watch him leave for draft-pick compensation in free agency. The superstar shortstop/third baseman is sure to reel in one of the richest contracts in the history of the sport once he hits the open market, and he has helped his future earning power by batting a healthy .310/.381/.560 with 21 home runs and nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (50) in 375 plate appearances this season.
If the Dodgers are the team that upgrades at short with Machado this summer, it may come at the expense of either outfield prospect Alex Verdugo or young pitcher Yadier Alvarez. The Orioles have shown interest in both of those farmhands – two of the finest talents in the minors – though the Dodgers’ offers so far have not included either player, Encina relays, and Kubatko writes that LA has not made Verdugo available. Considering their wealth of offensive talent, it’s arguable the Dodgers won’t even need Machado as they seek a sixth straight National League West title and a second consecutive NL pennant. But acquiring him would still be a boon to them and a blow to the rival Diamondbacks, who lead LA by one game in the NL West and haven’t gotten high-end production from their shortstops this year.
Like the D-backs, none of the Brewers, Phillies or Braves have fared well at short. The Indians and Cubs have, on the other hand. But Machado could be a third base solution for the Indians, who have the great Francisco Lindor at short and would be able to shift fellow superstar Jose Ramirez from the hot corner to second base to make room for Machado. In doing so, the Tribe would presumably relegate struggling second baseman Jason Kipnis to a bench role. The Cubs, meanwhile, have an impressive-looking setup at second (Javier Baez), short (Addison Russell) and third (the currently injured Kris Bryant), so it’s unclear where Machado would fit, though there has long been speculation about Russell going to Baltimore in a deal. However, Russell is under affordable control through 2020 and would be a lot to give up for a rental player – albeit one who’d serve as an upgrade for a Chicago team which trails NL Central-leading Milwaukee by 1 1/2 games.