With the Winter Meetings coming to a close, the rumors about Orioles superstar third baseman Manny Machado are heating up.
There are reports that the White Sox have made an offer to the Orioles:
There are also reports that, not only has an offer been made, the White Sox may be the frontrunners:
Will this actually happen?
It is important to realize a few things here. First, none of the details are verified, and some of the information is pure speculation.
This could be a case of the Orioles leaking false or exaggerated information to drive the price up and solicit better offers from other teams. The White Sox allegedly used this strategy last year when trying to trade Chris Sale.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, although the Orioles are reportedly actively shopping Machado, there is no rush for them to trade him right now. They could conceivably trade him in July at the trade deadline to a desperate contender looking to gain an edge.
Additionally, depending on the price, the White Sox may decide that it would be better to wait to sign Machado during free agency next offseason. Like the Orioles, there is no reason for the White Sox to rush.
Aren’t the White Sox rebuilding? Does a trade for Machado mean they are reversing course and trying to win now?
Yes the White Sox are rebuilding. No this would not show a change of direction.
This would be purely strategic. Although Machado only has one year on his current contract, the White Sox would be looking to the future with this move. The White Sox have been rumored to have been interested in signing Machado to a long term deal when he is a free agent in 2018. The White Sox very likely may think that having Machado around for a year to learn about the organization and bond with his teammates will make it more likely that he signs with them long term next offseason, in contrast to being just another team participating in a bidding war for arguably the best third baseman in MLB.
What would the White Sox have to give up?
There are reports that the Orioles are seeking pitching. The pitching depth of the White Sox farm system makes them a good match for the Orioles.
Some people have been name-dropping two of the White Sox top pitching prospects:
It is extremely unlikely that a potential trade for Machado would include both Kopech and Giolito. In fact, it is extremely unlikely that Kopech would be included in any trade at this point. He has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball eventually, so trading him for what could potentially end up being one year of Manny Machado does not seem worth it.
Would you do it?
For the right price. I would not include Kopech, Eloy Jimenez, or Luis Robert in any trade. I would be alright with sending Giolito and a lower-level pitching prospect, or two high-level but second-tier pitching prospects. It is important to realize that a second-tier pitcher in the White Sox organization as it is now is equivalent to a first-tier pitcher in nearly any other organization. It is also important to realize that, while Machado is a superstar, the Orioles are facing the potential to get nothing in return if they do not trade him and he leaves as a free agent next year.
I would not make any trade without a mutual understanding that the goal is to have Machado for the long run. Ideally, I would like to have a deal in place before making the trade. If this were the case, then I would be willing to throw in another mid-to-high-level prospect. There are rumors, however, that Machado does not want to discuss long-term deals until after next season, which is probably smart for him.
The issue in all of this is that the whole plan is contingent on the White Sox paying likely over $200 million to extend Machado. The White Sox have never, in their entire existence as a francise, spent more than $66 million on any contract (Jose Abreu in 2013). While I believe that they may be changing their ways in order to make a push for a 2020 World Series championship and a potential dynasty after that, I will believe it when I see it. Machado may not be the only piece necessary to take them to the highest level, which would likely mean signing even more players on top of that. I am just not sure they would be willing to make that kind of financial commitment given their track record.
That being said, this trade has the potential to accelerate the rebuild, and show that the White Sox mean business. I personally think that Rick Hahn is a smart man and excellent general manager, and I trust him to read the situation. For the first time in several years, now that Hahn is clearly in charge of what was once a poorly-run front office, I am confident that whatever decision Hahn makes will be the right one.
Again, this could be a lot of nothing. It is, however, a fun thing to discuss in the middle of winter with baseball still months away.