It's general consensus that Manny Machado will be dealt away from Baltimore once the All-Star Break ends (or shortly after it). But those rumors remain rumors and Baltimore is one of the most unpredictable trading partners in the big leagues. Will it be the Dodgers since Corey Seager will not return this season? How about the upstart Phillies with their abundance of young talent? Or is he headed to the Bronx to join the loaded Yankees. Or does he somehow stay in Baltimore because the Orioles are unable to find the package he wants? The SI staff breaks down the primary candidates for Machado's services in the second half of the season.
Do the Yankees need Manny Machado? Of course not! But they didn't need Giancarlo Stanton, either, or Aroldis Chapman in 2016, and that didn't stop them then. There's an even older script for them to follow here: 14 years ago, another tall, slugging perennial all-star Dominican shortstop from Miami turned up in the Bronx because his pitching-starved team hadn't been able to win with him. Two MVP awards and a championship followed, along with, OK, some other business that isn't especially germane here. Things could go even better this time 'round, with Didi Gregorius presently manning short instead of the immovable Derek Jeter. (Gregorius is a better defender there than Machado, but if it's a dealbreaker...).
Machado's arrival wouldn't fix the 2018 Yankees' biggest flaw—a hole where a No. 2 starter should be—but he would provide an immediate upgrade to the offense, presently the league's third-best. Machado's .400 wOBA in 2018 is two points higher than Aaron Judge's. And if the Yankees retained him in the offseason, his presence would allow them, if they were so inclined, to flip Gregorius or 23-year-old third baseman Miguel Andujar for the pitcher they'll likely still need. It'd make the hefty prospect ransom the Yankees will pay Baltimore just a little more palatable. -- Jack Dickey
The NL East is ripe for the taking, and no sport’s postseason is as wide open as baseball’s, especially with one team on either side of the bracket getting knocked out in one game. That in and of itself should be motivation enough for the first-place Phillies to do what it takes to acquire Manny Machado. There is then, of course, the fact that the Phillies have a glaring hole on the left side of the infield. That makes this the perfect match.
The question of fit is overstated for a player like Machado. When you’re hitting .315/.387/.575 with 24 homers, you fit on every team. Still, no contending team is as starved for offensive production at shortstop and third base quite like the Phillies. The team ranks 24th in the majors in both shortstop and third baseman wOBA. The Brewers are the only team in the postseason hunt with a lower shortstop wOBA, while no team in the race is worse at third than the Phillies. Machado says he wants to play shortstop, and going against those wishes could jeopardize an acquiring team’s ability to resign Machado in the offseason, but nothing will stop him from testing the market anyway. It’s worth noting that if the Phillies did get Machado, their best defensive alignment on the left side would be him at third and Scott Kingery at short in a landslide.
Philadelphia is neck-and-neck with the Braves in the East, and while the Nationals stumbled to a 48–48 first half, they still loom as the division’s most dangerous team on paper. The Phillies are one big trade away from making themselves the clear favorite in the division, and it won’t cost nearly what it should, considering the ability of the player in question. They’re the team that should go get Machado. -- Michael Beller
The Cubs appear to have fallen out of the sweepstakes as of Tuesday, but Machado would finish the most terrifying infield in the big leagues. Imagine going around the horn with Rizzo-Baez-Machado-Bryant. The mere thought of it would frighten any opposing pitcher. Chicago has received a strong bounceback season from shortstop Addison Russell, who is hitting .272/.345/.391 with 5 HR and already accrued a total of 2.6 WAR through 85 games, but he'd be worth trading to acquire Machado, who they might be able to tempt with a long-term deal. The Cubs probably want to avoid another nine-figure deal after the underperformances of Jason Heyward and Yu Darvish, but Machado is a far more tantalizing young talent.
The likelihood is about zero that the Machado heads to the North Side, but adding him would make the Cubs must-watch TV for the second half of the season. -- Gabriel Baumgaertner
The Dodgers: They've reportedly emerged as a clear front-runner over the course of the last day or so, but this has seemed like a possibility since shortstop Corey Seager was laid out for the season with an elbow injury two months ago. It's true that they don't have much space to add players without passing the luxury tax threshold, but with a corresponding move or two, they could potentially still be safe while taking on the pro-rated remainder of the $16 million that Machado is owed. The NL West remains the tightest division race in baseball—Los Angeles holds first place right now, but they haven't led by more than half a game at any point all season. Their slow start means that they won't have much margin for error in the second half, and adding Machado could make that picture much more comfortable for them. -- Emma Baccellieri
There are only two words to describe the Orioles not trading Manny Machado: organizational malpractice.
It would go down as one of the all-time trade deadline screw-ups, and that’s because a deal didn’t happen. An explanation is hardly needed to justify this harsh stance, but here goes. The Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball. Manny Machado is going to a free agent as year’s end. If Baltimore lets him leave the organization without getting anything in return, it would achieve a level of ineptitude not known to even a team 40-plus games under .500.
As the Orioles are probably realizing as they field offers for Machado, they aren’t going to receive a franchise-altering package of prospects. In an age where prospects seem to be valued higher than many players already in the majors, two or three months of a player—even of Machado’s caliber—isn’t worth emptying the farm system.
What about the Yankees in 2016, reeling in superprospect Gleyber Torres from the Cubs for a few months of Aroldis Chapman? Unfortunately for the Orioles, there isn’t a team burdened by a century-old championship curse at the moment. But that shouldn’t preclude them from trading Machado. There will be a deal to make, and they need to make it. -- Connor Grossman
The Brewers’ current position in the National League—staring up at the Cubs in the Central and holding a narrow lead over the Braves for the first wild card—wouldn’t seem to encourage a go-for-it-now move like Machado. But even with Milwaukee’s precarious position, it’s a risk worth taking. The team’s farm system is deep and robust enough to afford the hit it would take to get him. He’d give the Brewers arguably the best lineup in baseball, with him, Christian Yelich, the ageless Lorenzo Cain and the surprising Jesus Aguilar all mashing together.
Milwaukee is also one of the few teams in the hunt that can offer Machado time at the position he wants to play, shortstop; he’d only be displacing Tyler Saladino, a fill-in option after top prospect Orlando Arcia was sent down. The difference between Machado and the combo of Saladino and Arcia (and whoever else the Brewers try to stick at shortstop) could be the difference between the postseason and an October spent at home. Milwaukee’s rotation needs help too, but Machado is a massive upgrade who would make the Brewers a real World Series threat. -- Jon Tayler