As I am writing this, the Baltimore Orioles are 8-25, 16 games out of first place and 8 games behind Tampa Bay for fourth in the division. The team is playing horrendous ball, unable to match it’s surprisingly decent pitching with even an average lineup. Dan Duquette has assembled a team that looks uninspired, and it is time for the band to be broken up. Luckily, it appears there is no better time (other than last year, of course) to deal superstar Manny Machado.
Machado, who is amongst the MLB leaders in all major categories, is off to an incredible start, batting .354 with 9 home runs and 27 RBI. He is the only Oriole producing quality at-bats; the only Oriole providing hope when he steps to the plate. As a result, he is the first piece that must go. Manny Machado will be the centerpiece of the O’s rebuild, and – as I’ve written about before – if they get it right, dealing him could fast-track their journey back to relevance.
At the Winter Meetings this past December, news broke that the Orioles were actively shopping Machado, seeking two MLB-ready starting pitchers. While they didn’t receive any offers they found enticing enough to strike a deal, their actions suggest that the team – and ownership – are prepared to ship their star shortstop away. In addition, Machado was coming off an up-and-down season that may have hurt his value, especially as he entered a contract-year. However, his steady, MVP-caliber start to the season may have his stock higher than ever, particularly in the eyes of teams who may be one piece away from contending for a World Series title.
One of those teams – one that may be closer than any others, in fact – is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of course, LA fell to Houston in Game 7 of last year’s World Series, so they were already one of the favorites to take the crown. However, the Dodgers lost shortstop Corey Seager for the season, leaving a massive hole in their lineup and infield. Considering their yearly activity on the trade market (the Dodgers always try to improve their club for the long-haul), it would be no surprise if they held a significant interest in Machado. Manny would provide a short-term fix at shortstop and would give LA the opportunity to entice him to resign in the offseason if they choose to do so. Either way, it is a small commitment for a team whose main goal is to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.
But do the Dodgers have the prospects to match the Orioles’ needed return for Machado? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. First and foremost, LA would have to include starting pitcher Walker Buehler, who just this past week, combined with the Dodger bullpen for a no-hitter. Buehler has the potential to be a future ace of the staff, and the O’s would surely demand that he be included in the deal. In addition, the Dodgers could offer their #4 overall prospect, RHP Mitchell White, and their 14th-best prospect, 3B Christian Santana, to round out the deal. This would give Baltimore two starters to continue building a rotation around while replacing Machado with a solid defender at the hot corner.
The silver lining of the Orioles’ awful start to the 2018 campaign is that it leaves them with no option but to trade Manny Machado. And while Dan Duquette suggested that they may wait until after Memorial Day, the Orioles appear to have a trade partner that they can start contacting now. There is no need for a player of Machado’s caliber on this team, and quite frankly, while Baltimore would miss him dearly, he deserves better. Selling Machado for top-quality prospects would kickstart the Orioles’ rebuild in a big way, allowing them to follow suit with Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Brad Brach, and Zach Britton.