LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When this month started, there were two men the baseball-loving world was obsessed with. Giancarlo Stanton is with the New York Yankees now. Shohei Ohtani picked the Los Angeles Angels. So obviously we needed someone else for whom we’ll constantly refresh our Twitter feeds.
So it was that on Tuesday, Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado became the new all-eyes-on-me man of baseball’s Hot Stove season.
Will the Orioles trade Machado, who is bound for free agency at the end of the 2018 season? They could. It would make sense if they don’t think they can leapfrog the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Would another team out there be willing to give up a lot to get Machado for just one season? They could. It would make sense if they think they’re one slick-fielding infielder and one big bat away.
All that sense-making hit reality Tuesday, as the rumors started to trickle in. It started with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal who penned a column saying the Orioles were at least listening to offers on Machado and the 25-year-old shortstop-turned-third baseman would love to get back to playing shortstop.
Then came all the reports of teams that are interested in Machado. Among them: the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals. As Rob Bradford of WEEI said, the Orioles were receiving a “ton” of interest in Machado — and why shouldn’t they? Any GM with a pulse would at least be thinking about Machado.
Finally, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette addressed the whole thing Tuesday evening. Via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun:
Duquette on Machado: "There’s a lot of interest in Manny and a couple of clubs requested a meeting so we met with a couple of clubs on that issue specifically and we’re going to continue to explore the market and see where it takes us." #orioles
— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) December 12, 2017
You get the feeling this is something the whole Orioles regime — even manager Buck Showalter — is going to be talking about more frequently than they’d probably like, unless Machado is dealt before spring training. Showalter was asked about it Tuesday and even he admits he’ll be waiting for answers, to some degree.
“We’re not talking about that all the time. I’m not involved in a lot of that, what’s really going on. That’s Dan’s situation and Dan’s prerogative and his communication with people,” Showalter said. “But if there’s something that’s going to change drastically the construction of our roster, then I’m sure I’ll be brought into it.”
And with that, we have a new will-they-or-won’t-they trade discussion involving one of the league’s top talents. This may not get resolved before the Winter Meetings wrap up Thursday, but Machado is definitely in play now and even if he’s not traded by opening day, this drama could continue well into the regular season. And if the Orioles are stuck in the middle of the AL East, then he almost certainly won’t be wearing their uniform once the trade deadline passes.
There’s a chance the Orioles get a deal they absolutely love and this happens relatively quickly. But there’s a better chance it’s another of these dragged-out dramas like we’re used to seeing. There was David Price with the Tampa Bay Rays and Chris Sale with the Chicago White Sox.
Now it’s Manny Machado’s turn.
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