PHILADELPHIA -- The Manny Machado sweepstakes have not officially concluded, but multiple reports have him headed to the Dodgers.
The Phillies pursued Machado for the past several weeks, and they still believed early Tuesday they remained in the hunt. But soon after USA Today reported the Orioles and Dodgers would announce a trade Wednesday, similar reports surfaced. Multiple sources confirmed Machado to Los Angeles to MLB.com.
The news leaves the Phillies searching for different ways to improve their offense before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Despite the fact the Phillies tout the highest walk rate (10.1 percent) and most pitches per plate appearance (4.03) of any team in baseball, they are 11th in the National League in average runs per game (4.33).
A source said the Phillies will turn their attention to players like Mike Moustakas, Eduardo Escobar and others for help on the left side of the infield. Phillies shortstops have a .634 OPS, which ranks 27th in baseball. According to FanGraphs, Phillies shortstops Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford have a combined zero wins above replacement this season. Of course, Moustakas is a third baseman, but he has been more productive this season (1.9 WAR) than Maikel Franco (0.3 WAR).
Those numbers at shortstop are why the Phillies took a run at Machado. He has a .963 OPS, which ranks eighth in baseball. He has a 3.8 WAR. If that pace continues in the second half, he could have meant an extra two to three wins for the Phillies.
And that could have meant the organization's first National League East title since 2011.
The Phillies still open the second half Friday in first place in the NL East. They just need some help to reach the end. Besides offense, the Phillies will look to upgrade their pitching. Orioles closer Zach Britton is a possibility. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ continues to make sense. Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels would fire up the Phillies' fan base, but the Phillies' front office might be lukewarm about a reunion. He is 5-8 with a 4.36 ERA and a 5.05 FIP in 19 starts.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported early Tuesday that the Dodgers emerged as favorites after they included outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz, who is the No. 84 prospect in baseball, in the deal. A source told MLB.com's Jon Morosi late Monday night that the Phillies had moved into frontrunner status because they included pitching prospect Adonis Medina, who is the No. 73 prospect in baseball.
But in conversations over the past couple days, it remained unlikely the Phillies would part with top prospect Sixto Sanchez, who is the No. 23 prospect in baseball. They never considered trading big league pitching like Zach Eflin or Nick Pivetta because the Phillies' starting rotation is the biggest reason for the organization's surprising success.
By most accounts, the Phillies were aggressive enough to be runners-up for Machado, but in the end the Dodgers were more aggressive. They wanted him more because they felt they needed him more. They are trying to win a World Series this season. The Phillies see themselves at the beginning of a run and are not willing to mortgage the future for two-plus months of Machado.
The Phillies will take a run again at Machado in the offseason. It is not a stretch to see them trying to sign Bryce Harper, too.
But that is months away. The Phillies are trying to win the NL East now. They have two weeks to upgrade the 25-man roster to help make it happen.