|Will Machado find himself back in Philly this month?|
The Philadelphia Phillies open a quick two-game set with the Baltimore Orioles tonight at the still-sweltering hot Citizens Bank Park. While game time temperatures are expected in the mid-80’s, the “real feel” will be in the low-90’s for much of the night.
But the weather won’t be the only thing hot down in South Philly. Also heating up are trade rumors involving the Phillies and Manny Machado, the Orioles superstar shortstop.
Machado is due to become a free agent this coming off-season. The Orioles (24-59) have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. There is zero chance that Machado will re-sign with Baltimore.
The Baltimore Sun speculated today on the possibility of the biggest star on their local nine moving up I-95 north to Philadelphia:
“When the Orioles arrive in Philadelphia the media will be relentless speculating on the Phillies’ chances to land Machado. Talk radio is a favorite pastime in the city. Do the Phillies give up prospects now or do they wait until Machado hits free agency after the season?The Orioles have less than a month — the deadline is July 31 — to trade Machado and point the franchise toward the future. Getting the Phillies to give up some of their top prospects would be a good start.”\
A third baseman for most of his big league career, Machado began a transition to his preferred position of shortstop last summer. It is the only position that he has played over 82 games thus far in 2018.
The Phillies arguably have holes at both positions right now. Maikel Franco has been the regular third baseman for most of the last four years. Now at age 25, Franco has shown no improvement on a career .249/.300/440 slash line.
At shortstop, 23-year old J.P. Crawford was supposed to be the future. In fact, he was supposed to be the present as well. But injury troubles and offensive inconsistency have stunted the development of the Phillies former top prospect. He has been on the Disabled List for the last three weeks with a broken hand, and is still not due back for a couple more.
Into the breach stepped 24-year old Scott Kingery, the presumed second baseman of the future. Kingery has been forced to substitute for both men at times. He played third base when Franco was cold earlier, and has now become the regular shortstop in Crawford’s absence.
Despite showing flashes of his huge potential, Kingery has largely struggled here in his rookie campaign. He is hitting for just a .226/.275/.336 slash line, and looks for all the world like a guy who could use a few weeks back at AAA to get himself back on the right track.
Bringing in Machado would measurably improve the Phillies left-side infield production. It is presumed that he would remain at shortstop, which could allow the Phillies to get Kingery that needed time with Lehigh Valley.
Machado and his current .310/.377/.564 slash line would also fit nicely into the Phillies batting order. He would bring just the kind of quality hitter with proven pop that is needed at this time.
Stick Machado, who has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBI the last three seasons, in between Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, and the Phillies would have a legitimate middle-order attack.
The price for Machado would probably begin with Crawford, maybe even Crawford and Franco. You would also have to give up 2-3 valuable minor league prospects.
While the Orioles would push for Sixto Sanchez, the top Phillies prospect at the moment, they would probably settle for a couple from among Adonis Medina, Jo Jo Romero, and Franklyn Kilome.
To cap it off, the Phillies might also have to part with one of their top outfield prospects from among Jhailyn Ortiz, Mickey Moniak, or Adam Haseley.
That’s a large price to pay for one player. But it’s one special player. Machado turns just 26 years old this coming Friday.
Just last week, MLB insider Jon Heyman with Fancred Sports listed the Phillies as one of the favorites to land the young superstar, and addressed the prospect price:
“The Phillies, whose executives have very close links to Machado from their days in Baltimore and who are said to love the longtime Orioles star, have been seen as a prime player all along. The big question is whether they are willing to give up prime prospects when they are an up-and-comer, but yet to be firmly established as a legitimate World Series contender.”
A second key then becomes signing him for the long term. Getting Machado here could make negotiating a long term deal easier. That would be especially so if the Phillies continue to win. Such a contract could require something like a 10-year, $350 million commitment.
Heyman and others have also reported that there are whispers of a reunion between the Phillies and former ace Cole Hamels. But do the Phils have what it takes to make two big trades without yielding Sanchez?
Hearing some chatter about a Cole Hamels possible reunion with phillies. It’s early, and unsure how serious the chatter is. But they love him. He loved it there (obvs) and has a home there so presumably he’d approve. Has control with no-trade list covering two-thirds the teams)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 3, 2018
Over the next two days, the Phillies and their fans will get a close-up look at the player who has been hyped for a year now as a possible free agent signee. If management can be as bold as their 2018 slogan intimates, Machado may be in red pinstripes before the month is out, and for many seasons to come.