The Orioles have been hopeful to do something earlier than the July 31 deadline with superstar shortstop Manny Machado, and the good news is they have seven live offers – and maybe eight or nine. The bad news is, they aren’t hearing exactly what they want yet — though the prospect-heavy Yankees' entry into the derby with a "strong" offer, as reported by Fancred, certainly spiced things up.
The seven presumed main contenders were verified in Eduardo Encina’s report in the Baltimore Sun, and they are eight counting the Yankees now (we still aren’t really counting the Red Sox here, as they are just believed to have made a phone call, at most).
Here is a rundown of the eight:
Need: They lost star shortstop Corey Seager for the year, and Chris Taylor has filled in ably. But they could move Taylor to second, Max Muncy to first and Cody Bellinger to the outfield, though it's pretty crowded out there.
Prospect Watch: It’s strong, though not as strong as it once was (and perhaps not as strong as that of the Yankees). Alex Verdugo is the top guy, pitcher Dustin May has been mentioned and shortstop Gavin Lux, a first-rounder a year ago, is an under-the-radar star the Brewers are said to like.
History: Many claim the Dodgers are stingy with prospects, but the reality is, they traded three of them to rent Yu Darvish last year.
Complications: They want to stay under the $197-million luxury tax threshold and are also interested in fortifying the pitching staff, which may ultimately be the bigger need.
Need: It certainly is less than overwhelming at third base, where they have rookie Miguel Andujar paying well (40 extra-base hits). But with hopes for an ace slim – they don’t believe the Mets would trade them Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, and they are probably right — there’s some logic behind making a stellar offense even better. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that’s what they did when they acquired Giancarlo Stanton.
Prospect Watch: They have a long and talent-laden list which ranks them near the top in baseball, so they could easily make a deal, if they want.
History: They have made a lot of deals in recent years, and almost all of them look good today, with the exceptions being last year’s trade-deadline move for Sonny Gray and the one that swapped Yangervis Solarte for Chase Headley. Their goal is to win the World Series, but the first hurdle is trying to beat the Red Sox in the A.L. East.
Complications: Starting pitching is the real need. Machado has made it clear he wants to stay at shortstop, and the Yankees would make him a third baseman if they acquired him. “I am a shortstop,” he told Yankees writers including Marc Carig of The Athletic. That doesn't seem to be deterring them, however, and without a no-trade clause Machado ultimately has no choice — at least until he becomes a free agent.
Need: Their shortstop of the future, Orlando Arcia, is having so much trouble this year that they sent him back down to the minors. Currently manning the position are nice pickup Brad Miller and rookie Nate Orf.
Prospect Watch: They have one real gem, second baseman Keston Hiura, and many, many very solid pieces that could easily form a deal. Word is that pitcher Corbin Burnes and outfielders Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips have come up (h/t Jerry Crasnick of ESPN on Phillips), but there was no such offer that included all three — Burnes, Broxton and shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia — as was suggested somewhere. That is way too much!
History: Ten years ago, in one of owner Mark Attanasio’s first years, the Brewers made a big early deal for a superstar rental, CC Sabathia, that catapulted The Crew into the playoffs.
Complications: Everyone has suggested that the Brewers need an ace. But the reality is, there may not be an ace to be had (no one thinks the Mets will trade Jacob deGrom). And even if there was, would the Brewers be the ones to gut their farm system to acquire him?
Need: The Phillies are getting little from the left side of their infield, and their lineup doesn’t stack up to the Nats and maybe even the Braves in their division. Their rookie shortstop J.P. Crawford is currently out after being hit by a pitch.
Prospect Watch: The Phillies’ prospect lot is the best it’s been in years, with the strength a group of pitchers led by Sixto Sanchez (currently out), Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero and Enyel De Los Santos. They also have multiple young infielders who could interest the Orioles, including Crawford and possibly Maikel Franco.
History: This group of executives just got together and already is contending, to the surprise of many, so it’s hard to know what they will do. But it appears they are acting very cautious with their prospects, and reports are suggesting they'd prefer to use their vast stack of cash rather than trade prospects (via Jayson Stark, The Athletic).
Complications: They love Machado from their days with him after drafting him for Baltimore (Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak and several other Phillies execs used to be with the Orioles), which could ultimately sway them.
Need: They are said to still be evaluating needs, but if Steven Souza, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb can regain their timing, the need for a great hitter wouldn’t be as pressing as it may seem now.
Prospect Watch: Probably a “bottom 10” prospect list at the moment, according to one rival, though they have enough prospects/players to make a deal.
History: They made a deal for a rental last year, J.D. Martinez, and it turned out to be the best deal of the trading season.
Complications: The D-Backs may have a window this year since stars Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock are free agents this winter.
Need: They’d be fine moving Jose Ramirez to second base, though longtime 2B Jason Kipnis is doing a bit better lately. Their offense, which is very reliant on Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, would look a lot better. And the infield, which would also include Machado’s brother-in-law Yonder Alonso, would be all-time great.
Prospect Watch: Middle of the pack, though there are at least two great ones. Catcher Francisco Mejia, who’s special, is thought to be a target of the Orioles. So is Triston McKenzie, a young righty pitcher (via Jon Morosi of MLB.com), though it's hard to see Cleveland trading either one of them.
History: They nearly traded Mejia for Jonathan Lucroy, which would have been a mistake. They did trade Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield for Andrew Miller, which some others saw as a risk. They don’t make many mistakes, however.
Complications: The Indians rarely have a lot of money to spend, and $8 million remains on Machado’s 2018 salary. Machado wants to stay at shortstop, and the Indians already have a great one.
Need: Their offense, which has been good, would be much better with Machado.
Prospect Watch: Their list is pretty thin, and speculation has been that young shortstop Addison Russell would have to be in the deal.
History: They have shown the willingness to gamble, having sent Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman.
Complications: It's assumed they want to stay under the $197-million luxury tax. With Yu Darvish out, the rotation may be a bigger need. As might be the bullpen.
The Cardinals have been linked to third-base stars and are concerned about an inconsistent offense, and could move Paul DeJong to third, though they haven’t been linked to these talks since winter. The Red Sox have been mentioned but they don’t really have a need (unless Machado would agree to play second base – no chance) and there’s no indication they are a serious player here.