The recent indication is that trade chatter on Orioles star Manny Machado has picked up of late. Of even greater note is the fact that the team evidently is interested in completing an early deal for its best player, rather than waiting until the deadline itself.
It seems, then, that there’s a real possibility of a deal coming together in the coming days — perhaps even tomorrow, on Machado’s 26th birthday — though the O’s could certainly still decide to wait if offers aren’t yet to their liking. The early movement itself is notable, as the broader market situation could be quite a bit different in a few weeks’ time.
The evident pace of negotiations does not necessarily indicate that one or another team is a favorite. Indeed, as discussed in the above link, there are still quite a few organizations — some identified, some perhaps not — that are engaged to some extent on Machado.
Let’s run through some of the top possibilities on paper (in alphabetical order) before assessing the market in a poll …
- Athletics: The A’s could stand to upgrade over Marcus Semien at short, but face a tough road to the postseason and may not be eager to pay up for a rental. There’s no indication that the Oakland org has been involved in talks to this point. It’s quite a longshot, though it warrants a mention given the on-paper fit and good play of late from the A’s.
- Braves: While the focus has long been on third base, there’s arguably a greater need at short. Johan Camargo has out-hit Dansby Swanson, after all. Regardless, an addition on the left side of the infield would deepen the overall mix. With the Braves continuing to pace the NL East, an immediate postseason push no longer seems overly hopeful at all.
- Brewers: The middle infield has been a problem all year for an otherwise strong Brewers club. While there’s an equally strong argument for pursuit of a starter, the Milwaukee organization could potentially reap huge benefits from a major upgrade at short. And every win will matter in the NL Central race.
- Cardinals: The team is loaded with useful infielders, but could still benefit by adding a star and shuffling some other roster pieces. If the St. Louis organization hopes to keep pace with its division rivals — discussed immediately above and below — it may take a bold strike.
- Cubs: This match made more sense before Addison Russell started turning things on at the plate. It’d be a bit of a surprise at this point if the Cubbies beat the market for Machado with arguably greater needs elsewhere, though they can’t be counted out for a bold move for a rental after the 2016 acquisition of Aroldis Chapman.
- Diamondbacks: Perhaps no other organization has been tied as strongly to Machado as the D-Backs, who benefited greatly last year from the mid-season addition of J.D. Martinez and are now trying to hold off rivals in a tightly-packed NL West. The offensive production from the 4 through 6 positions in Arizona has been lacking, so it’s easy to see the reason for the interest.
- Dodgers: When Corey Seager went down for the year, speculation turned immediately to the possibility of a move for Machado. But with Chris Taylor stepping in at short and blazing hot bats up and down the lineup, it’s not clear that Machado would really be the most sensible player to pursue.
- Indians: The Cleveland organization finds itself in an interesting spot with the division all but in hand but also plenty of holes that could be filled. Adding Machado to play third would mean moving Jose Ramirez to second and Jason Kipnis into the outfield mix. But Machado is not a cheap player, even for a half-season rental. And adding him would likely mean doing less to address struggles in the outfield and bullpen.
- Phillies: One of the clear favorites to land Machado as a free agent, the Phils also look like a prime destination for him in trade. The left-side combo of Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford has been a dud in 2018. While there’s likely still hope for some of those players to shake out in the future, a move for Machado would come with the promise of huge near-term impact.
- Red Sox: While they aren’t interested in parting with or giving up on Rafael Devers, the Red Sox could still see Machado as a near-term upgrade at third. There’s no solid indication that this is a distinct possibility, but a bold strike of this ilk can’t be ruled out given the classic AL East battle that’s shaping up.
- Yankees: The same basic reasoning supports involvement from the Yankees, though frankly there’s much less cause for the New York organization to make Machado its prime deadline target. Starting pitching remains the obvious focus, but perhaps the recent injury to Gleyber Torres — which isn’t believed to be serious, but has already driven him to the DL — provides a bit of daylight to consider a strike for Machado.
So, where do you think Machado is most likely to go? (Link for app users.)