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Trade Talk

All-in for Machado? This club could have edge

10 years after CC, Crew appears poised for another Deadline splash
MLB.com @jonmorosi

Ten years ago Saturday, the Brewers acquired the hottest name on the trade market: CC Sabathia, then the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Sabathia was historically brilliant in the second half, and Milwaukee ended its playoff drought.

Substitute "Manny Machado" and adjust a few more words in the above paragraph, and you have a dreamy round of non-waiver Trade Deadline Mad Libs that Wisconsinites want to reprise.

Ten years ago Saturday, the Brewers acquired the hottest name on the trade market: CC Sabathia, then the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Sabathia was historically brilliant in the second half, and Milwaukee ended its playoff drought.

Substitute "Manny Machado" and adjust a few more words in the above paragraph, and you have a dreamy round of non-waiver Trade Deadline Mad Libs that Wisconsinites want to reprise.

Trade talks: What's the latest?

Are the Brewers on the verge of acquiring Machado? It's too soon to say that. But as time goes on, there are more reasons to believe Milwaukee is the front-runner.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported over the weekend that the Dodgers and Brewers were the most serious suitors for Machado. On Sunday, multiple sources confirmed to MLB.com that those two teams are among the most aggressive in pursuing Machado -- but that others are involved.

And based on their respective farm systems -- and organizational strategies -- Milwaukee is better positioned than Los Angeles to land Machado.

Video: Morosi offers a hypothetical Machado, Brewers deal

Let's start here: There's a compelling argument that the Dodgers should focus their attention on acquiring relief pitchers from the Marlins, rather than an infielder from the Orioles. The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Angels in the weekend Freeway Series, and a reliever was the losing pitcher in each defeat.

The Dodgers had one of the best bullpens in baseball last year, when they came within one win of a World Series title. Now, their bullpen ERA is close to the Major League average. Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig's injury in Sunday's game could impact the team's trade needs and/or Andrew Friedman's ability to include Puig or fellow outfielder Joc Pederson in an offer for Machado.

Meanwhile, the Brewers' collection of players -- in the Majors and Minors -- is custom fit for a trade with the O's.

The Orioles' foremost need in the Machado trade is clear: They have the worst rotation ERA in the Majors and lack impactful starters in the high Minors on whom they can rely in 2019. To address that, Milwaukee could offer Corbin Burnes (who was just called up to the Majors) or Luis Ortiz as the primary pitcher in an offer for Machado.

Meanwhile, the Brewers' overall depth is such that general manager David Stearns can part with an experienced Major Leaguer -- Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana or Orlando Arcia -- and deliver immediate value to the O's Major League roster.

Broxton would be the most difficult player of the group for Milwaukee to trade now, with Ryan Braun's trip to the disabled list ensuring Broxton will continue to see regular playing time. But Broxton's best attribute -- dazzling defense in center field -- would be more valuable in Baltimore over the long term, due to Lorenzo Cain's presence with the Brewers. (The Orioles likely need to replace pending free agent Adam Jones in 2019.)

Video: Must C Catch: Broxton leaps to rob Dozier of a homer

The Dodgers are said to be reluctant to trade Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo for a rental -- the same stance they took in the Yu Darvish trade talks at this time one year ago. One source said the O's have inquired about Dodgers Class A right-hander Dustin May, who's maintaining a 3.13 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League at age 20.

The Orioles also are known to have interest in catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Gavin Lux, a teammate of May at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, could help address the O's middle-infield needs due to the expected departures of Machado and Jonathan Schoop in the coming weeks, months or years.

In the end, the mission statement of a front office can be as determinative as the names on any prospect list. Operating in one of the smallest Major League markets, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio proved with the Sabathia deal that he is comfortable with "all-in" trades when the circumstances are right. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have shown resolve when their top prospects are asked about -- whether the player coming to Los Angeles would've been Cole Hamels or Justin Verlander. (Willie Calhoun, the top prospect the Dodgers gave up for Darvish, has a .770 OPS for the Rangers at Triple-A this season.)

For the Dodgers to acquire Machado, they'll likely to have to break with their precedent. For the Brewers, the move would be in character and on schedule. Once every decade or so, it's perfectly prudent to rent an All-Star.

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.

Manny Machado