On Tuesday morning, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Baltimore Orioles are shopping star third baseman Manny Machado — who wants to slide back to his natural position of shortstop.
As we wrote last month, a Machado trade makes all the sense in the world for the Orioles, who won’t compete in 2018 and can’t afford to sign Machado when he becomes a free agent next winter. Now the question is, if Baltimore follows through on trading Machado, where will he land? Here are five potential destinations for the 25-year-old star.
St. Louis Cardinals
This is the destination that seems to be getting the most attention. The Cardinals have lots of good players but few great ones, and all signs indicate they’d like to consolidate assets. After missing out on Giancarlo Stanton, Machado (or Josh Donaldson) could be St. Louis’ next big target.
Rosenthal reports that the Orioles want young, controllable pitchers, and the Cardinals have those. Luke Weaver, Alex Reyes, and Jack Flaherty are all highly promising young arms, and GM John Mozeliak might deem one of them expendable if it means acquiring Machado, who could play either third of short in St. Louis.
New York Yankees
If you’re scared of the Yankees now, just imagine them with Machado onboard. The Yanks have a need, having just dealt third baseman Chase Headley to San Diego. They have the prospects, from pitchers Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield to third baseman Miguel Andujar and outfielder Clint Frazier. And they presumably have the desire, given their status as a 2018 World Series front-runner. This would work financially as well, as the Yankees attempt to run a reasonable payroll next season before splurging for 2019.
There are drawbacks, however. The Yankees probably wouldn’t want Machado to play shortstop, since Didi Gregorius is already entrenched there. Plus, the Orioles might balk at dealing their best player to a division rival, even if for only a season.
San Francisco Giants
Like the Cardinals, the Giants missed out on Stanton and are now back to the drawing board. They’ve got Brandon Crawford at shortstop, but no team in baseball got less production out of third base last season, making Machado a fit. On the last legs of a highly successful era, San Fran might be willing to go all-out for one last season, even if the bottom falls out (again) in 2019.
But the Giants also might be wise to take a deep breath and begin a rebuild, and it’s not clear they have the prospects to get Machado even if they want him.
Boston Red Sox
Yes, the Red Sox have Rafael Devers at third base and Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, but Bogaerts could easily land on the trade block if it meant netting Machado. With the Yankees having acquired Stanton, Boston might feel pressure to add a superstar of its own, and Machado is the best player on the market. And the Red Sox would have the cash to lock up Machado long-term, if they wish.
Boston’s farm system isn’t as stacked as it was a few years ago, but Dave Dombrowski probably has the pieces to get something done if he wants to badly enough.
Many insiders seem to expect the Phillies to make a splash one way or another, and Machado would certainly be a splash. In fact, Rosenthal mentioned them as a potential landing spot for the infielder.
There are, however, some pretty serious issues with this one. For one thing, Philadelphia has J.P. Crawford at shortstop and might be reluctant to move the hotshot prospect. Plus, would the Phillies really sacrifice top young players to improve during a season when they figure to be fringe playoff contenders at best? The Phillies might make sense for Machado next winter, but right now it’s hard to see.