Whether the Philadelphia Phillies (or any team) is able to pry Manny Machado away from the Baltimore Orioles before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline remains to be seen. But with just over a month until the trade deadline, general manager Matt Klentak has reportedly been one of the more aggressive executives in his pursuit of the 25-year-old shortstop.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, joined by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies are one of the two most aggressive suitors for Machado:
In a market that will be the most-watched this summer and may contain many twists and turns to come, the Phillies and the Dodgers are said by one Orioles-connected person to be the most aggressive pursuers of superstar shortstop Manny Machado. Yet another Orioles-liked person agreed, but added the Diamondbacks, and maybe the Cubs, are also in close pursuit.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Heyman’s piece is a paragraph about what the Phillies would be willing to part with to acquire the three-time All-Star:
One person with Phillies connections suggested they are amenable to trading their very top pitching prospects like Sixto Sanchez; however, they have a nice list of pitching prospects that also includes Enyel De Los Santos, Adonis Medina and others and also the type of young infielders who might entice the Orioles, who are looking to restock that position, as well.
For those of you scoring at home, Dictionary.com defines amenable as “ready or willing to answer, act, agree, or yield; open to influence, persuasion, or advice; agreeable; submissive; tractable.” By all previous accounts, the Phillies are not amenable to parting with Sixto Sanchez, the No. 1 prospect in their organization that has garnered comparisons to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. It’s unclear if this was a typo, but it would be quite the story if the Phillies were willing to part with Sanchez, who MLB Pipeline ranked as the No. 24 prospect in baseball prior to the 2018 season. The 19-year-old righty is also currently on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, which would complicate any trade talks centered around him.
Heyman reported earlier this month that while the Phillies had inquired on Machado, they viewed the Orioles asking price to be “too steep.” MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki added that the Phillies were ‘highly unlikely’ to mortgage the future for a chance to rent Machado, who is expected to test the free-agent market this offseason regardless of where he finishes the season.
Perhaps the Phillies feel that with a few months in Philadelphia – along with their financial might – they would be able to prevent Machado from reaching free-agent at all if they traded for him. That would seem to be quite the risk, though, especially when you consider that they wouldn’t get any draft compensation if they traded for Machado this July and he left for another team in free-agency.
There’s another angle to consider: prospect ammunition. Putting Sanchez aside for a minute, there’s not an executive in the sport that wouldn’t trade someone like Adonis Medina – the organization’s No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline – if they thought it would give them a very high likelihood of employing Machado for the next decade. But if the belief is that Machado will test the free-agent market this offseason no matter what, wouldn’t it make sense for the Phillies to hold onto their prospects? Then the Phillies could attempt to sign Machado this offseason, and use the top prospects they didn’t trade for him to acquire other players to put around him and/or eventually just call up some of those prospects to play with him.
That said, a major market team like the Dodgers acquiring Machado would present a hurdle that the Phillies may not be able to clear. After a dreadfully slow start, the Dodgers find themselves just two-and-a-half games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West. With Machado, who would replace the injured Corey Seager at shortstop, the Dodgers would stand a good chance to make another run to the World Series. Machado could still test free-agency after such a run, but the Dodgers are one of the sport’s deepest-pocketed teams, so they would likely be the favorite to retain him.
Over the course of the next month, the Phillies may have to wrestle with just how much they value Machado and how much they are willing to risk to acquire him, knowing he’s just months away from free-agency. It doesn’t help that they’ll have to deal with one of the most dysfunctional organizations in sports – the Orioles are the definition of too many cooks in the kitchen – when negotiating a potential trade for Machado.