The probability of a Manny Machado trade this offseason is higher than ever. The only issue for the Orioles is finding both the proper suitor for the 25-year-old superstar, while also getting what they want in return. The Cubs have what it takes to get Machado, but it may mean parting ways with a fan favorite.
The Cubs have some serious competition in the NL Central in 2018. While the Brewers may or may not be the competitive team they were in 2017, the Cardinals have a legitimate shot at winning 90-plus games next season. They’ve added some serious power in Marcell Ozuna, while Luke Weaver and Miles Mikolas will make the rotation better than ever from top-to-bottom.
In order to keep St. Louis in check, Chicago needs to improve on both sides of the ball, and they can start by going after the highly-coveted Manny Machado. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers suggested here that the Cubs offer up Addison Russell as the centerpiece for a Machado trade, and honestly, it makes sense.
Addison Russell will be 24 in a month. He’s still got plenty of time to improve offensively, and his glove is already above average. However, the Cubs are in need of a more established player. If the Cubs want to stay competitive, they can’t sit around for another year or two waiting on Addison Russell’s bat to come around. They’ve got to get a player who’s already done what they’re waiting on Russell to do, and that guy is Machado.
While a trade for Machado only guarantees a one-year rental, the Orioles know there’s value in the opportunity for a team to re-sign him after having him for a year, and they won’t accept any less than they know they can get.
Addison Russell is a nice addition to the Orioles’ roster, but they’ll be looking for a bit more, likely a prospect. I’d throw in Chicago’s No. 8 prospect, outfielder Mark Zagunis. Zagunis got his first taste of MLB action last year and could be a valuable addition to the Orioles’ outfield once Adam Jones hits free agency after the 2018 season.
Baltimore may get greedy and capitalize on the Cubs’ needs by snagging another top-30 prospect, but if I was negotiating the trade, Russell and Zagunis are enough for me.
Appeal to re-sign
The Cubs have a talented, young offensive core that will be a force to be reckoned with for at least three more years. Pitching is a question mark, however, with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey being lost to free agency, as well as the inevitable aging of Jon Lester, who’s creeping into his mid-thirties.
The first step in convincing Manny Machado to re-sign with the Cubs would be to begin building a young rotation that will hold up once Lester isn’t as polished as he is now. They’ve got a bevy of pitching prospects, but most of them are still a couple of years away from the majors. Chicago needs to build a bridge to these prospects, and see about getting a starting pitcher or two in free agency this offseason.
What could Machado do for the Cubs?
Honestly, a Cubs lineup that includes Machado in 2018 would be scary. Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, and Ian Happ are all legitimate 30-homer threats, and Javier Baez could belt 20-25. Adding another 30-homer guy like Machado would make that lineup absolutely ridiculous!
Everyone’s talking about all the home runs the 2018 Yankees could hit, but if the Cubs get Manny Machado, they’ve got a team that can compete with those Yankees (yes, the Yankees with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton).
Manny Machado makes sense for the Cubs this offseason, but only if they’re willing to do what’s necessary to persuade him to re-sign after 2018. Their window of opportunity isn’t closing anytime soon, so it would be foolish to bring in a player of Machado’s magnitude and not try to keep him around.