The news that Corey Seager will miss the rest of the season following Tommy John surgery leaves the Dodgers, who are already trying to bounce back from a 12-15 start entering Monday's game vs. the D-backs, in serious danger of seeing their streak of five straight National League West titles snapped.
Already playing without third baseman Justin Turner (wrist), outfielder Yasiel Puig (hip, foot), left-hander Rich Hill (finger) and second baseman John Forsythe (shoulder), the Dodgers were dealing with their share of injuries even before they declared Seager out for the season.
But the loss of Seager for the season's final five months represents the biggest blow. Since the start of 2016, Seager ranks fifth among all position players in Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs, trailing only Michael Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve and Kristopher Bryant.
• Seager (elbow surgery) to miss rest of 2018
So while Chris Taylor figures to be Seager's immediate replacement for the Dodgers, could they make a splashy move to replace the two-time All-Star?
There's one player that immediately comes to mind: Manny Machado.
The Orioles' shortstop was a popular name on the offseason trade market, and although Baltimore ultimately chose to hang on to its franchise player, the Dodgers have reportedly expressed interest in the 25-year-old at least once.
Given Seager's age (he turned 24 last week) and contract situation (he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next season and won't become a free agent until the end of the 2021 season), it's a safe assumption that he will reclaim his shortstop job next spring. That wouldn't impact the Dodgers' ability to deal for Machado, who is slated to hit the free-agent market this fall. If Los Angeles has designs on a sixth straight National League West title, replacing Seager's production should be a high priority.
Machado appears to be the only player of that ilk that could be made available in the near future, as the Orioles' 8-20 start could make them summer sellers.
The pairing seems like a natural fit, though with the exception of last summer's deal for Yu Darvish, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been hesitant to sacrifice his top prospects for a rental player -- which is precisely what Machado would likely be.
"I bet they'll [discuss] it, but I'd be surprised if it comes together," one general manager said.
Then there's the Dodgers' payroll, which currently sits around $187 million. Adding Machado's $16 million salary would move Los Angeles past the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold, meaning the Orioles would either have to take some salary back in a trade or include some cash to keep the Dodgers beneath the threshold -- both unlikely scenarios.
Of course, the Dodgers would also need to satisfy the Orioles' asking price, which will surely be a difficult task this early in the season.
Baltimore was believed to be seeking two young pitchers in any deal for Machado this winter, so any Dodgers package would likely have to begin with top prospect Walker Buehler. Accoridng to MLB Pipeline, the 23-year-old right-hander is the team's No. 1 prospect, while 22-year-old righty Yadier Alvarez ranks No. 8 on the team's Top 30 list.
• Dodgers' Top 30 prospects
It seems more likely that Taylor will take Seager's place at shortstop, giving Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi an opportunity to shop for an outfielder instead of an infielder to replace some of the offense lost by Seager's injury. They could give Alex Verdugo (the team's No. 2 prospect) a chance to show he's ready for regular playing time and wait on making a significant deal.
If the Dodgers don't make a big move for Machado, there will be plenty of suitors for his services between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Here's an early look at who could make a play for Machado:
Cubs:Addison Russell is off to another uninspiring start (.660 OPS, no home runs) at the plate. If the Dodgers fall out of the race, that would take one of the projected contenders out of Chicago's way and could prompt the Cubs to make a big move before the Deadline.
D-backs: Arizona has gotten good production from Nick Ahmed to this point, though GM Mike Hazen showed last year with the J.D. Martinez move that he's not afraid to make the big move to better his club's postseason chances.
Blue Jays: Three years ago, Toronto pulled off two midsummer blockbusters, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies and David Price from the Tigers just a few days apart, with Price serving as a half-season rental before hitting free agency, just like Machado would. Both moves helped spring board their run to an AL East title and the ALCS. Short-term rentals aren't necessarily the normal strategy for club president Mark Shapiro, but with Josh Donaldson headed for free agency, this could be the Jays' best shot at an October run.