MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Orioles reportedly listening to Manny Machado trade calls
Mostly because it doesn't hurt to listen, but here's what to know about it
The Orioles are in a difficult spot right now. They went 75-87 and finished in last place in the AL East in 2017, and next offseason core players Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Adam Jones will become free agents. Britton's name has reportedly already come up in trade talks.
Now, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Machado's name has popped up in trade rumors as well. The O's are getting calls about their superstar third baseman, and while they aren't actively shopping Machado, Heyman says they are willing to listen to offers. There's no harm in listening. Here's more from Heyman:
There are no known offers, and it would obviously take a ton for the Orioles to even consider moving such a superstar. The Yankees and Phillies are among many teams expected to have interest in Machado, who is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season – though the call list isn't known.
While this is going on, behind the scenes the Orioles are also discussing whether to try to make a play to keep Machado long-term. He could be expected to receive a contract in the range of Giancarlo Stanton's record $325 million deal as a free agent, and other teams believe that might be too steep for the Orioles, but that doesn't mean they won't try.
Given the fact Machado will be a free agent next winter, and is likely to test the market in hopes of landing a record contract, it stands to reason only contending teams would show serious interest in acquiring him. A rebuilding club wouldn't want to risk trading top prospects for Machado only to watch him sign with a big market team as a free agent next winter.
Which teams could make a serious play for Machado, in that case? Here's a quick alphabetical list:
Angels: They just signed Justin Upton to a $105 million extension and they're trying like crazy to get Shohei Ohtani. There's an opening at third base as well. Machado is a natural fit for the Halos, who want to win as much as possible before Mike Trout becomes a free agent in three years.
Cardinals: Josh Donaldson, another high-end third baseman due to become a free agent next year, so I have to think they're also interested in Machado. Machado could be the backup plan if they miss out on Stanton.
Indians: Cleveland's window to win won't get any more open. Jason Kipnis moved to the outfield and Jose Ramirez moved to second base late last year, and while Giovanny Urshela is a nice player, you don't let him stand in the way of Machado at the hot corner.
Nationals: As with the Brewers, this one would take some creativity because the Nats have Anthony Rendon at third. What about moving Trea Turner back to center field and putting Machado at shortstop, his natural position? Hmmm.
Red Sox: Rafael Devers is a nice-looking young player and a highly ranked prospect. Machado is a legitimate MVP player, and if you're trying to win next season, which the Red Sox are trying to do, Machado would be the way to go at third.
Yankees: Chase Headley is no obstacle for Machado, and even if he doesn't re-sign with New York next winter, the Yankees could take a shot with him in 2018 before turning third base over to prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar (whichever one doesn't get traded for Machado, basically).
Other contenders like the Astros (Alex Bregman), Twins (Miguel Sano), Cubs (Kris Bryant), Diamondbacks (Jake Lamb), Dodgers (Justin Turner), and Rockies (Nolan Arenado) are all set at third base. Yes, Machado is someone you try to make room for if he's available, but for these clubs, third base (or even shortstop) doesn't seem like a top priority.
Machado, who is still only 25, hit .259/.310/.471 (107 OPS+) with 33 home runs in 2017, though that was broken down into .230/.296/.445 in the first half and .290/.326/.500 in the second half. He remains a premier player and standout defender. Machado's a top 10 player in baseball, probably top five, and if the Orioles are seriously open to trading him, they can expect a huge prospect package in return.
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