The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly have interest in Orioles free-agent-to-be Manny Machado.
But how realistic would a trade for the Baltimore Orioles superstar be?
That is a question that General Manager Mike Hazen and the rest of the D-Backs front office will have to ask themselves over and over again as we get closer to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Diamondbacks are one of many teams interested in the 25-year-old Machado, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network.
Sources: #DBacks, #Orioles have been in contact about a possible Manny Machado trade this season. Dialogue remains open between the clubs. This is viewed as due diligence on Arizona’s part as the team’s needs become clear. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 19, 2018
One game into the mathematical second half of the 2018 season, the Diamondbacks are in a win-now position. Despite a rocky May that saw the Snakes only win eight games, the D-Backs have rebounded with 19 wins in June after storming out of the gate with a 20-8 record. Yes, the Dodgers have closed the gap in the National League West thanks to 17 wins in June.
But, the D-Backs are in a better position this year to challenge Los Angeles. Thanks to a stellar bullpen that helped Arizona post their lowest ERA (3.40) at the season’s halfway point and a suddenly red hot offense behind the resurgence of Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks fans should feel good about where the team is at. As a team, the D-Backs have scored a major league leading 152 runs in June and Goldschmidt is leading the world in a number of categories, including batting average (.379), wRC+ (228) and fWAR (2.2).
Should the D-Backs be buyers at the Trade Deadline? Sure. Does that mean they have to get super aggressive and mortgage the future? Hazen and company have to consider the pros and cons of such a move, and study the results of moves made by their predecessors.
The case for Machado
Besides from being in a win-now position, the Diamondbacks have gotten subpar and at best, inconsistent production from the shortstop position this season.
Nick Ahmed has played 73 games at shortstop this season and is batting .218 with 10 home runs and an OPS+ of 76. Ahmed has never been a reliable hitter, so when he hit a respectable .262 with a 152 OPS+ in April, it shocked most people who have followed this team for years. But, hey maybe he had turned a corner and figured out how to par his elite defensive skills with an above replacement level bat. Instead, he hit .146 in May, but has rebounded nicely in June. He in many ways, is a perfect microcosm of the D-Backs’ season at the plate.
Meanwhile, Machado is hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 56 RBIs. He is one of a few hitters that have actually lived up to their reputation for the Orioles, who currently own the worst record in the majors at 23-59. So, he would be an upgrade at shortstop and pair nicely with Paul Goldschmidt to create one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball.The @Dbacks reportedly have interest in Manny Machado, but would the immediate positives outweigh the immense price? @joejacquezaz examines.Click To Tweet
The only problem is unless the D-Backs can convince Machado to resign, he would be a two-month rental. Now, if the D-Backs win the World Series, all is good. But if not, the Diamondbacks could risk repeating the same mistakes they have made under previous regimes.
The case against Machado
For starters, the asking price for Machado is reportedly really high. For a 25-year-old it makes sense and while nobody knows exactly what the Orioles are looking for until a deal actually gets done, a package would likely include two or more controllable starters and a replacement for Machado.
MILB.com ranked all 30 farm systems in March, and the Diamondbacks came in at No. 25 overall, No. 27 for position players and No. 20 for pitchers. Arizona was in the 30th spot before the start of last season, but the organization still only has three true impact prospects: Jon Duplantier, Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho. There are other prospects in the system, mainly on the pitching side, that could make an impact but none of them are as polished as those three.
The Orioles would likely want one if not two of those players from that group and possibly another prospect or a major league ready bat. That is a lot for a player that likely will not resign and become a free agent.
Now you are probably asking, what about last season when the D-Backs acquired J.D. Martinez, who was also a two-month rental who did not resign and ended up in Boston. Couldn’t the team do the same thing again, especially since they are in a better position in the standings this year?
The difference is the D-Backs did not have to give up a high end prospect for Martinez. Machado would cost a lot more because he is younger and plays good defense at shortstop and third base. Yes, Martinez did help will the D-Backs to the postseason, but Machado’s cost is not worth it, especially when Ahmed already plays better defense at short than Machado and has swung the bat better than he ever has in the past.
Would Machado be a great addition to the D-Backs? Sure. Could he be the one piece they need to win a World Series? Sure. If you believe that to be true, than maybe trading for him is worth it, no matter the cost. But, I don’t believe what Arizona would likely have to give away is enough for a player that probably wants to play in a major market next season.