Recently, there have been quite a few rumors flying surrounding Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season.
The Yankees, of course, are at the top of that list. Even the White Sox have been rumored to be interested, though that seems unlikely given where the Sox are in their rebuild.
Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago says the Cubs should pre-empt all this by making a blockbuster deal to acquire the Orioles star:
Machado has expressed a desire to play shortstop, so the Cubs should offer Addison Russell as the centerpiece of the deal. Four years of Russell in exchange for one year of Machado might not sound like a great deal for Chicago, but in a year when the Cubs have question marks on the mound, they could perhaps bash their way to a title. Russell, plus a minor league arm or two, should get a deal done for the All-Star.
Part of the thinking revolves around the Cubs’ 23-year-old current starting shortstop. Dealing Russell now might be selling him at his peak value. There’s no questioning Russell’s ability, but he lost much of a season to off-field issues in 2017 and the injuries that are starting to pile up. He’s had previous leg problems going back to before he was acquired from Oakland, and just last year he had a terrible case of plantar fasciitis, as well as a sore shoulder on more than one occasion. It could be the right time to deal him -- especially for a player of Machado’s caliber.
It’s a risk. Here, Rogers makes Russell look somewhat less valuable than he probably really is going forward, and if that’s the case why would the Orioles want him? Saving some money would likely be the reason; if Russell is the player he appears to be and is past any injury issues, Baltimore could sign him to an extension buying out his arb years.
Machado, who has played almost exclusively third base in Baltimore, would slide over and become the Cubs’ shortstop. His offensive numbers were down a bit in 2017, but he still posted a 3.5 bWAR season and his defense is excellent.
Machado made $11.5 million in 2017 and in his final year of arbitration is likely to get somewhere in the $13-$14 million range. Paying Machado this much, as opposed to the perhaps $3 million that Russell will get for 2018, would squeeze the budget a bit when it comes to acquiring pitching. On the other hand, Machado is clearly an offensive upgrade.
The Cubs likely wouldn’t want to do this without the real chance that they could sign Machado to a long-term contract extension. He’s not the kind of guy you want for a rental, especially if it means giving up Russell. It should be noted that even though Machado is entering his sixth major-league season, he’s only a year and a half older than Russell. Machado turns 26 in July; Russell will be 24 next month.
Rogers argues that even if Machado were to leave after 2018, the Cubs have the middle infield covered; Javier Baez could move over to shortstop with Ian Happ taking over second base full time (with some help from Ben Zobrist, who will be in the final year of his Cubs contract in 2019).
Personally, without the assurance of an extension, I don’t think I’d do this deal. But since Jesse Rogers put nearly 1,000 words online trying to sell this deal, I thought I’d at least give you the opportunity to weigh in.
Would you trade Addison Russell (and prospects) for Manny Machado?
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