By Cat Garcia
As far as deal-making was concerned, it was fairly quiet on the White Sox front during Winter Meetings. The rumor mill churned, however, and this time it churned out more than just a rumor; but a situation to try and understand.
Whispers of Orioles superstar Manny Machado being on the trading block were heard all throughout the halls of the Swan and Dolphin Resort—and of the White Sox’s apparent persistence in trying to land the 25 year-old third baseman/shortstop.
At first blush, I’m sure folks are imagining how fantastic Machado would look down the third baseline in pinstripes, flipping bats after nightly displays of his power at home plate and helping bring his MLB experience and Latino flair to a young and exciting White Sox clubhouse.
But the reality of the situation is that Machado only has one year left on his contract and, given the way free agency has taken shape over the past few years, it’s hard to get anyone to want to sign an extension before taking their talents to the trading floor. The market is moving forward faster than most can keep up, which makes players and agents alike a bit more curious as to what sort of value and attention they can garner.
The White Sox currently have an influx of young talent, and per FanRag’s Jon Heyman, the Orioles are interested in nearly-major-league-ready arms and as big of a return as they can collect in exchange for the privilege to employ Machado for one year with virtually no guarantee afterwards. That’s a lot to ask of a team such as the White Sox, who may have a plethora of core talent in their minor league system that would make other organizations envious, but, just as Machado would, many of these players fill an important role in the clubs future.
While most feel it’d be virtually impossible for the White Sox to entertain trade discussions around Michael Kopech at present time, there are pieces that the Orioles could be interested in such as Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning or even Carlos Rodon. What these pitchers have in common is that they’re all likely to land as mid-rotation starters and therefore are a bit more expendable than the high ceiling Kopech presents.
But that simply brings us back to the first point—no team wants to give up prospects, even ones that could be considered expendable to the organization, for one year of a player when they’re likely in a non-contention window. (The 2017 Brewers say hello, though.) But there could be other logic here.
The White Sox could be interested in getting Machado into the clubhouse while they can to have him brushing elbows with their current third baseman of the future Jake Burger, to leave impressions on the Latino players who need guidance from veterans navigating their way through Major League Baseball culture—and then potentially flip him at the trade deadline. Then, pennant-hungry teams wearing the rose-colored glasses of desperation often give up more talent than necessary for a ticket to October. But there isn’t guarantee that what the White Sox would get in return for a rental of Machado at the deadline would be worth the risk of giving away prospects now.
Perhaps the White Sox are in some sort of agreement with Machado’s people that they would at least entertain the idea of an extension. Perhaps they’re looking to grab Machado while they can and sell him on the White Sox of the future. It’s no doubt Machado would merit somewhere in the area of a $300 million deal. With the White Sox’s expenses becoming incredibly team friendly due to all the homegrown talent they currently possess, that would be something in their budget. “If a high percentage of the players we have internally are able to contribute to a championship club in Chicago, it should be fairly cost-effective from a payroll standpoint which would allow us some freedom to be more aggressive on spending either on higher-price players via trade or in free agency,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn told the media at Winter Meetings.
Hahn has been coy with his remarks on whether or not the organization has spoken with the Orioles on Machado, and although Hahn may be good at keeping his deals hush, something about this one feels as though it’s the type of hush that leads one to believe the rumination here has hit the proverbial nerve.
“There’s been a lot of things over the last year that I think perhaps may have surprised people or at the very least deviated what people have perceived the way we would do things.” Hahn said, leading one to believe that’s perhaps a dressed up way of saying the organization might be after Machado right now after all, even if from an outside perspective it seems odd.
The Orioles have been vocal about their desire to trade Machado “by the end of the week,” which is quickly approaching. But as Hahn has pointed out, the White Sox organization has been able to keep many of their bigger deals under wraps until they become official. Perhaps Machado will be the next big move in a slowly shaping puzzle.
@ 2017 WLS-AM News