Sorry, but don’t expect Manny Machado this year

Photo by Keith Allison

Here’s what we know about the Phillies and Manny Machado:

  • The Orioles have fielded calls from teams interested in their third baseman.
  • The Orioles have researched the Phillies farm system in case talks escalate, and seem to like Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery.

Meanwhile, Matt Gelb wrote Monday that the Phillies and O’s “have not discussed a Machado trade this offseason.”

He also writes that to expect a trade is foolish. Why?

For one, Machado would benefit from reaching free agency when his agents can engage teams in a potential bidding war. He, along with Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, will be two of the most-sought free agents in recent years. Even if the Orioles decide it is time to rebuild their roster — an option owner Peter Angelos is said to loathe — and want to receive some compensation for Machado in a trade, he could scuttle it by saying he will not agree to an extension before free agency.

Moreover, he writes, the Phils would probably rather wait one year and pluck Machado from free agency. It gives the Phils more time to gauge young wave of talent while allowing them to keep valued prospects like Sanchez and Kingery.

All of this makes sense. Of course, the Phillies should absolutely be doing all of the due diligence necessary when it comes to Machado. He and Harper are the most likely targets for the Phils in November 2018, and if one of them is available now – and there’s a risk of that player being acquired by another team who could extend him – the Phils have to be deeply involved.

But if the Phils find that they’re only bidding against themselves, then there’s no need to trade for Machado this offseason.

And the Phils are probably only bidding against themselves.

Look around the league. The teams in massive rebuild mode can’t and shouldn’t take a chance on Machado, even if he agrees to an extension. The Orioles probably don’t want to trade Machado to a rival like the Yankees, Red Sox or Blue Jays. Small-market clubs value prospects over both the one-year risk and the potential massive terms Machado would command in an extension.

That leaves a select few big-market teams, but most of them don’t have the cash for an extension or the farm system for a return.

Sanchez and Kingery (and you’d better believe they’d both be in the deal) are outstanding prospects, the kind few teams can dangle to the Orioles. But even then the Phillies, despite all of their available resources, would much rather keep both in the system. And while Sanchez and Kingery, plus another prospect, are fair value for a year of Machado with an extension agreed upon, this is the kind of reality that stops a rumor dead in its tracks.

Finally, it’s not in line with this front office’s thinking, whether you like it or not. Matt Klentak and Co. have stressed patience with this young wave of players, and giving even Maikel Franco one more go-round seems to be the company line. Agree or not, this is what they’re doing. They’ll upgrade the pitching staff somehow this offseason, possibly with a trade, but don’t expect fireworks. The Phils are, by their words, still collecting information about this young wave.

“There will come a time when we are one piece away and that one piece is a fill in the blank — starting pitcher, closer, cleanup hitter — and in that moment, when we feel that we are one piece away, or two pieces away, that’s when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do.”

That was Klentak, today, in a piece by Jim Salisbury at NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The Phils are still a couple pieces away on the mound, and they’re probably still trying to get a read on the futures of half the guys at the plate. It seems like a long way still. It can be frustrating to know we’re not yet making that game-breaking deal, especially when the Yankees seem to reload in the blink of an eye.

Well, they ain’t the Yankees. They don’t have that money, and sorry, they don’t have that constant pressure. The team that just lost its starting quarterback for the season has the pressure in this town. The Phillies can be patient, so they’re being patient, collecting data, getting in position to add that “fill-in-the-blank” piece when it’s time.

Soon it will happen. It’s probably going to be Machado, and if it’s not him it’s going to be Harper. But it probably won’t happen this offseason. And (through my teeth) that’s okay.

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