Around this time next year, Manny Machado is likely to be putting the finishing touches on a massive long-term contract. The big question with Machado, currently a third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, is not whether he's going to get paid; rather, the big questions are whether he's going to remain in Baltimore and at third base until then.
Machado has expressed his desire to move back to his native shortstop already, and that wish comes as the Orioles are reported to be shopping the pending free agent around. On Wednesday night, Brittany Ghiroli even noted the O's were making "good progress" on a deal:
Whether Machado gets dealt is anyone's guess. We decided to have some fun with the rumors by trying to figure out which teams are the most and least likely to employ him come 2018. Remember, this is more art than science -- and that the purpose here is to stir thought above all.
30. Miami Marlins: There's a better chance of Derek Jeter playing shortstop for the Marlins.
29. Tampa Bay Rays: There's a better chance of ... um, Derek Jeter playing shortstop for the Rays.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates: Pittsburgh is shopping around its own franchise player, Andrew McCutchen. There's no reason to believe they would give up the prospect haul for one year of Machado -- nor that they would put up the money to retain him long-term.
27. San Diego Padres: General manager A.J Preller is wild, but not that wild.
26. Cincinnati Reds: For one, the Reds probably don't want another massive contract on their books to go with Joey Votto. For another, they have top prospect Nick Senzel nearing the majors, and there's little reason for them to block his progress.
25. Detroit Tigers: There's zero reason to think the Tigers would make a big win-now move, and even less reason to think they'll rush into a big long-term contract anytime soon.
24. Kansas City Royals: Ditto.
21. Oakland Athletics: GM Billy Beane would probably love to grab Machado, stick him at short and see if the A's can't take a playoff spot. That doesn't mean it's likely to happen.
18. Houston Astros: We're putting the Astros this low because they're one of the few teams that can claim they don't need Machado and mean it -- remember, they have Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa to slot in across the skilled infield positions.
16. Chicago Cubs: Again, the Cubs are a good team with nowhere to play Machado.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs seem more interested in getting rid of a big contract rather than taking another on.
12. Atlanta Braves: New GM Alex Anthopoulos is bold and could certainly use a new third baseman. It's unclear if the Braves would make such a big financial commitment, however -- and it doesn't make a ton of sense to give up quality prospects for a one-year run.
11. Minnesota Twins: Doesn't seem likely in the slightest, but imagine if the upstart Twins made a splash for one big run?
10. Milwaukee Brewers: Same here.
9. Cleveland Indians: And here, for that matter.
8. Boston Red Sox: We're getting into the nitty gritty, yet the Red Sox are yet another team that doesn't seem likely to make a strong play for Machado. Not with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts entrenched on the left side.
7. Los Angeles Angels: The Angels could theoretically use a boost at third base over Luis Valbuena, and have an improving farm system. But would owner Arte Moreno be willing to hand out another long-term deal?
6. New York Yankees: In a vacuum, the Yankees have the prospects and financial might to get a deal done. In the real world, Dan Duquette is the same general manager who wouldn't sign Jose Bautista because of how O's fans viewed the slugger. Would Duquette -- or owner Peter Angelos -- really trade Machado within the division?
5. Baltimore Orioles: When in doubt, bet on no dealing happening. Especially since Duquette and Angelos have always tried making the most of their chances at reaching the postseason. Why hit reset earlier than needed now? They could also wait until the trade deadline.
4. San Francisco Giants: The Giants have the need for a power bat -- particularly one who can slot in at third base. But they don't have the caliber of farm system the teams ahead of them do.
3. Chicago White Sox: GM Rick Hahn has done well to stock his farm system for a moment like this. The White Sox seem like maybe a year off from pulling the trigger on a blockbuster, but it would stand to reason they would jump the line for a player like Machado.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are in a similar state to the White Sox. The difference? Members of the Phillies brass are familiar with Machado from their shared days in Baltimore. Is that just trivia or could it embolden them to get something done and reignite their fan base?
1. St. Louis Cardinals: Yup, the Cardinals -- even after the Marcell Ozuna move, which saw St. Louis move two of its top 10 prospects. The Cardinals have a billion-dollar TV deal and a need for improvement at either third base or shortstop. They also have the young arms the Orioles seem to crave. If St. Louis is serious about keeping up with the Cubs (and even the Brewers), then there's no time like the present to go for it with a big, bold move for a superstar.