MLB rumors: Orioles 'moving aggressively' to trade Machado, White Sox the favorites

As the Winter Meetings wind down Thursday, the biggest name currently on the trade market is Orioles third baseman and franchise player Manny Machado, who can become a free agent next offseason. While the O's would like to sign Machado long-term, the reality is they may not be able to afford to do so, which is why they're listening to offers.

Not surprisingly, many teams have expressed interest in Machado and several have offers on the table right now. There appears to be real momentum toward a trade. This seems to be more than cursory "we'll see what offers are out there" due diligence by the O's.

Interestingly enough, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says the White Sox have emerged as the "most aggressive suitor" for Machado. Chicago is currently in a deep rebuild -- remember they traded away Chris Sale, their franchise pitcher, last offseason as part of this rebuild -- and on the surface, pursuing Machado doesn't make sense given his impending free agency. There are four ways this could go:

  1. The White Sox keep Machado for 2018 then lose him as a free agent after the season.
  2. The White Sox re-sign Machado long-term and he becomes the centerpiece of their rebuild.
  3. The White Sox immediately flip Machado to another team, perhaps the Yankees or Red Sox, who would have difficulty trading with the Orioles directly given the whole intra-division thing.
  4. The White Sox hang on to Machado to start 2018 and then entertain offers at the trade deadline.

In order of likelihood, I'd rank those four scenarios 3, 2, 4, 1. For what it's worth, the ChiSox reportedly plan to acquire Machado and re-sign him long-term, pairing him to Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito and all those other top young players they've acquired over the last 12 months or so.

Of course, the possibility of the White Sox acquiring Machado then flipping him to another team for prospects is quite interesting, especially if that other team is the Yankees, who added Giancarlo Stanton to their lineup recently. They have plenty of prospects to trade -- in this scenario the ChiSox would rate the prospects they receive from New York as better than the prospects they trade to the O's -- and an opening at third base after trading Chase Headley. It's a natural fit.

For now, it seems a potential Machado trade has made the jump from "interesting thought" to "real possibility." There would be no shortage of suitors -- the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, and Cardinals immediately jump to mind as teams that could add Machado, among many others -- and if Machado goes, it stands to reason the Orioles would then get more serious about trading Zach Britton and Adam Jones, both of whom will also become free agents next offseason.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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