Before summer had even officially begun, the non-waiver Trade Deadline season got underway when the Royals sent closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals for three prospects. While Manny Machado might not be the next guy to go, there's a good chance that the Orioles will trade him between now and July 31.
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The O's listened to offers for Machado this past offseason, looking for a similar trade to the one the Braves got when they sent Jason Heyward to the Cardinals along with Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins in November 2014. At that point, Heyward had one year left before free agency.
While the trade market is saturated with third-base options -- including Mike Moustakas, Josh Donaldson and Adrian Beltre -- Machado rises above the pack. He's still just 25 years old, has experience playing both shortstop and third base, and he is excelling at the plate this season (145 wRC+).
Although Machado is now closer to free agency than Heyward was when he was dealt, the Orioles should still be able to get a package similar to the Heyward trade, and certainly more than what the Tigers received from the D-backs for J.D. Martinez last July (Minor Leaguers Sergio Alcantara, Jose King and Dawel Lugo). Find out below which teams are most likely to be interested, and what they might offer for Machado's services.
Adding Machado would clearly upgrade an offense that has been inconsistent this season, tying for second among MLB teams in runs scored during May, but finishing tied for 14th in April and tied for 22nd in June. The Cubs have the ability to send controllable Major League talent back, which might be of interest to the Orioles, with Addison Russell or even Ian Happ headlining a package to Baltimore. Including a pitching prospect like 2017 first-round Draft pick Alex Lange, an LSU product whom scouts tab as a potential mid-rotation starter in the future, would be difficult for the O's to turn down.
Like the Cubs, the D-backs' lineup has faced its share of inconsistency this season, ranking last in the Majors in runs scored in May and leading the category in June. While Paul Goldschmidt is back to raking at the dish after struggling in May, Arizona can certainly use another bat in the middle of the order, especially after seeing the impact Martinez had last year. The O's and D-backs had ongoing discussions about a Machado trade during the offseason, and they have maintained an open dialogue, so a deal could come together rather quickly. Offering two pitchers from the group of Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener and Matt Tabor, plus another low-level prospect, could be enough to get a deal done.
With Corey Seager out for the year following Tommy John surgery, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor regressing from last season, and Justin Turner struggling since he returned from the disabled list, the offense remains the Dodgers' biggest weakness. Acquiring Machado would help soften the blow if the Dodgers' most productive hitters to this point -- Matt Kemp and Player Page for Max Muncy -- tail off. Los Angeles also needs another reliever and could expand the trade to include Brad Brach. A package of outfielders Alex Verdugo and Yusniel Diaz and infielder Gavin Lux would be a good starting point.
The Phils have surprisingly remained in the National League East race despite some obvious weaknesses, and adding Machado makes even more sense now that J.P. Crawford is out until at least the end of July with a fractured left hand. Sixto Sanchez, Philadelphia's No. 1 prospect, would likely have to headline a deal with Baltimore, though a combination of outfielder Mickey Moniak and right-hander Seranthony Dominguez may also intrigue the Orioles.
Although shortstop Paul DeJong is nearing a return from a fractured left hand, and third baseman Matt Carpenter has turned his season around after a slow start, the Cardinals are still a potential suitor for Machado. Scoring runs remains a struggle for St. Louis despite Marcell Ozuna's torrid June; the club is 18th in that category this month. With Machado in the fold, the Cards could shift either DeJong or Carpenter to second base, a position at which the Cards rank 23rd in OPS (.623). The Cardinals' bullpen has also been decimated by injuries, so they could look to expand the deal to include All-Star closer Zach Britton. St. Louis has several pitching prospects who could fill the O's biggest need, including right-hander Dakota Hudson and outfielders Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill may also entice Baltimore.
Boston arguably needs bullpen help more than a temporary fix at third base while Rafael Devers continues his development, but the club's lineup has some weaknesses with Eduardo Nunez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez all carrying OPS marks below .630 and Devers sitting at .696. The Red Sox probably doesn't have the Minor League talent to swing a deal for Machado and Brach without including Devers, but perhaps Blake Swihart and a top prospect such as left-hander Jay Groome would intrigue the Orioles.
Atlanta has a wealth of quality pitching prospects, which dovetails with the O's top need. Meanwhile, the Braves could use an upgrade at third base and a middle-of-the-order presence to pair with Freddie Freeman and take some of the pressure off youngsters Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. A pitching prospect such as Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson or Luiz Gohara and another Minor Leaguer such as converted catcher Alex Jackson or backstop William Contreras (the younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras) would help fill important needs for Baltimore.