11:07pm: The talks are still in an early stage, Eduardo Encina of Baltimore Sun reports. Though the Yankees haven’t made any offers, the club has expressed interest not only in Machado and rental relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, but also in controllable starter Kevin Gausman.
Machado himself bristled at the ongoing questions about his status after tonight’s game against the Yankees. When asked about the possibility of shifting back over to third, after assuming the shortstop job in Baltimore this year, Machado answered: “I’m a shortstop. I play shortstop.” (Via Marc Carig of The Athletic, on Twitter.) Of course, it’s probably best not to read too much into that statement, as Machado may simply have been fending off questions by referring to his current situation and in any event lacks trade protection.
9:29pm: There appears to be some mutual interest in considering package arrangements, per reports from Jon Heyman of Fancred and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). In addition to weighing some of the O’s relievers, says Kubatko, the Yanks may have interest in Baltimore rotation pieces. Contemplating the possibility of the involvement of starting pitching makes this series of reports all the more fascinating. There are any number of imaginable permutations of package deals, though there’s no real hint at present as to what might be considered.
7:55pm: The Yankees are “showing increased interest” in acquiring Machado, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athetic (subscription link). It’s still not clear just how serious the Yanks are about such a move, but the report is intriguing nonetheless.
In some regards, to be sure, it’s a bit of an imperfect fit. Though we included the Yankees as a potential landing spot in a recent poll on Machado’s market, the Bronx Bombers didn’t rate as popular choice among respondents. While the club is unquestionably in position to add MLB talent, it has a much more obvious need in the rotation. And some would surely argue that there’s greater need for (and greater value to be found in) an upgrade at first base, where Greg Bird has not exactly thrived.
While Machado would upgrade any roster, the New York organization already features a quality shortstop in Didi Gregorius and a variety of other talented young infield options at second and third. Though breakout rookie Gleyber Torres is injured at present, there has been no indication that he’ll miss a lengthy stretch, so that doesn’t seem to represent a significant aspect of the increased interest.
As Rosenthal suggests, the likeliest motivation behind pursuit of Machado would be to install him at third base. The club could simply option Miguel Andujar for some additional seasoning. (Per the report, there’s reason to question that the promising youngster would be a part of a trade for Machado, which makes sense.) Andujar certainly has played well and has a bright future, but isn’t close Machado’s quality level at present.
There are other players to consider here, but none would get in the way of the pursuit of Machado. Indeed, Brandon Drury — who was just optioned back to Triple-A after the first of the Yanks’ two games today — might well be a trade chip, though there’s no firm indication of that to this point. Veteran switch-hitter Neil Walker would likely still fit on the roster regardless, so long as the club continues to show patience. (If not, the Yanks could utilize Andujar, Drury, and/or Tyler Wade in a reserve role as well.)
Part of the underlying reasoning here seems to be that the Yankees may struggle to upgrade as much as they’d like in the rotation. To be sure, the market is not shaping up to offer many compelling starters. Though the Yanks have plenty of pieces to chase a controllable hurler, it’s not yet clear whether the prices will be palatable enough to consider that route.
As things have shaped up in the American League, the Yankees and bitter-rival Red Sox have ample cause to seek all avenues for improvement. Settling for a Wild Card will, of course, mean a one-game series that could go in any direction. And the team that wins the play-in contest seems rather likely to face either the AL East champs or the defending World Series champion Astros in the divisional round. While the Indians are no cakewalk, they’ll likely be viewed as a somewhat less formidable foe.
Viewed broadly, then, the potential match is perhaps a bit more compelling than is evident at first glance. Whether other pieces of the Baltimore roster might be of interest to the Yankees is not yet known. It’s also not clear what trade pieces the Yanks would be willing to give that would pique the interest of the O’s sufficiently to pave the way for a trade of a mid-prime franchise legend to a division rival.
Clearly, this news doesn’t mean that the Yankees are the new favorites to land Machado. Reports from earlier today tabbed the Dodgers and Brewers as the most aggressive teams at the moment, and that seems still to be the case — with other organizations still also looking like plausible suitors as well. But the involvement of the Yankees shows that it’s still an open bidding situation with many possible outcomes. Whether or not the Orioles can leverage the broad demand into a significant return remains to be seen, but it’s clear that multiple contending organizations view Machado as a real potential difference-maker.