With the 2018 MLB All-Star Game less than two weeks away, we’re closing in on trade season. With the non-waiver trade deadline set to take place at the end of the month, we could be ready to see an uptick in activity in that regard. The Arizona Diamondbacks will likely factor in heavily.
And with the Diamondbacks factoring into the trade mix, there’s one name that they covet. And it’s one that’s been consistently in the MLB trade rumors throughout the season: Manny Machado.
The Diamondbacks’ conversations about Manny Machado go back to even the spring. While talks have yet to progress to a really serious stage, they’ve been fairly consistent. There are other teams in the mix, of course. The Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Dodgers have all been identified as potential landing spots. To a lesser extent, the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are also in there. There’s a reason for that, as Machado is obviously one of the best in the game at what he does.
Machado is having another strong year at the plate. He’s hitting .308, while reaching base at a .377 clip going into Thursday. His power is as demonstrative as it’s ever been, with an ISO of .252. His wRC+ is at 150. There are some concerns about his defense at short, though. He has -20 Defensive Runs saved and -15.5 UZR per 150. For a stout defensive club like the Diamondbacks, that could be a tough pill to swallow. But what he does on the offensive side likely outweighs all of that. Especially for a team that has had some inconsistencies at the plate throughout 2018.
Interestingly enough, the Diamondbacks could end up being the landing spot for the 25-year-old shortstop. The Cubs have somewhat faded from the Machado picture, especially with the recent uptick in production from their whole offense, especially Addison Russell. The Braves don’t seem poised to spend big, likely focusing on bullpen help. The Phillies are intriguing, as they could try and lock him up long-term. And the Red Sox would have to overpay being in the division. The Cardinals are trying to fight off a .500 record, and given their recent track record of handling their own players, Machado may not covet a trade to St. Louis.
That leaves the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers. The Baltimore Orioles reportedly want pitching. The Snakes, while not boasting an overly impressive farm, have one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Jon Duplantier ranks higher than anyone the Dodgers could offer in that regard.
The D-Backs do not have a great farm system at the moment, though they can cobble together enough young assets to entice the O’s. Duplantier (Baseball America‘s No. 52 prospect) and Widener are two very good Double-A right-handers who will be big-league options within a year. Marte is still only 24 and he’s shown promise on both sides of the ball, plus he’s signed affordably through 2024. He gives the O’s a young middle infield building block for the post-Machado era.
This is an interesting though, to be sure. Duplantier is going to be a part of any Machado package. The thought of moving Marte, however, is tough. The Diamondbacks extended him before the season, and it’s difficult to see them ponying up the dough to sign him long-term. That would leave a large vacancy on the middle infield for the foreseeable future. This type of deal could certainly entice the O’s, though.
As far as incentives, we’ve already touched on why Arizona needs to pursue Machado. A team like the Phillies, Braves, or even the Cubs and Dodgers, are built more long-term. They can afford to pursue Machado in the offseason if they so choose. The Diamondbacks don’t really have that luxury. They have Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock hitting free agency this winter. The need for a Paul Goldschmidt deal is on the horizon. The Snakes are in win-now mode, and are really more forced to be than any of the other clubs involved. This really enhances their shot at getting him. They need him more than those other spots.
The fact that a lot of groundwork has already been laid does bode well for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’ve had constant dialogue with the Orioles, and have a major prospect that the team covets. At the end of the day, they look like the most logical spot for Manny Machado.