This is one of those taboo topics in White Sox fandom, making the aggressive push for a veteran player, especially at the cost of talented prospects. So naturally, I find myself wincing as I discuss a report that the Chicago White Sox are one of five teams that have contacted the Baltimore Orioles about third-baseman Manny Machado.
Dan Clark of the Baltimore Sun, among many accredited outlets, reported this evening that the White Sox were among four teams known to be speaking to the Orioles about a Manny Machado trade. This was after Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com suggested that Baltimore had made “good progress” as of this afternoon regarding a Machado trade.
The White Sox have a better farm than anyone in baseball, therefore they are naturally a front-runner to land Machado if they truly want to do so. The question here is do they actually want to do so, or even more so, should they pull the trigger at this point.
My answer is, I don’t know, and I don’t believe so.
Manny Machado is a fine player, probably one of the best in baseball at that, and he’s a player that has seemed like an obvious fit for the White Sox for about the last year. An obvious fit for next year though. Machado, 25, hit .259 with 33 home runs and 95 RBI for the Orioles in 2017, and plays Gold Glove caliber defense at both third base and shortstop. Through six seasons in Baltimore, Machado boasts a career average of .279 with 138 home runs and 406 RBI, so why not?
Because the three-time American League All-Star will be an unrestricted free-agent this time next year, meaning that any team that makes a move for him this season could see the move explode in their faces after the 2018 season.
For the White Sox, they have the prospects to make it happen, and not even come close to depleting their farm system, and Rick Hahn, save for the Fernando Tatis, Jr. trade, has proven he’s a more than capable navigator of the trade market. The White Sox even have the financial means to extend Machado long-term as long as Jerry Reinsdorf signs off on it, and when has Reinsdorf shied away from something he saw as a means to win now, or sooner in this matter? Not often, not often at all.
We all know that Jerry wants another ring before he’s done, we also know how painstaking this rebuilding process was for him to consider last year. So the idea that Reinsdorf would consent, or even urge Hahn and Co. to make this move would not surprise me in the slightest fashion at all, and it shouldn’t surprise you either.
The White Sox could be, and should be, just doing their due diligence by seeking out what the market for Machado would be in regards to a return, as well as a 72-hour window to negotiate a contract extension if they do reach an agreement. Right now, the White Sox have a lot of pieces, and the Orioles are looking to hit the reset switch if they are for real on pulling the trigger on Machado. If the White Sox can work out a deal for Machado, and sign him to a long-term extension in the process, then Rick Hahn would be crazy not to do it.
However, if no extension, or at least the promise of talks between now and next winter by Machado is agreed upon, then Hahn might just be making a move that could define his career with the White Sox, for better or for worse.
It’s conceivable that the White Sox, or any other team that makes a move for Machado, don’t get an extension done immediately but still re-sign him next winter, the price will just be a lot higher at that point. Why not wait until next winter to sign him as a free-agent? That may not be an option if he likes where he’s traded to. Maybe a place that is on the uptick and full of potential in the not-so-distant future, and has many other Hispanic players that rave about the team, and a Hispanic manager who is all about his guys… kind of sounds like the White Sox, doesn’t it?
The Orioles want starting pitching in return for Machado, and the White Sox have a surplus of starting pitching prospects. Would we really be that upset to see Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease headline a deal for Machado? I wouldn’t, so long as they were committed to signing him long-term.
Of the other teams said to be in talks (Boston, New York and St. Louis), two are in the Orioles’ division, making them long-shots, and the other is St. Louis who just sent prospects to Miami for Marcell Ozuna. Putting Hahn in the driver seat to lower the asking price for Machado to a level that would be enticing or doable for the White Sox.
At this point, I would consider the White Sox a long-shot to land Machado this winter, and not because they don’t boast the most assets to pull off the move, because they certainly do; but because I think that Rick Hahn will err on the side of caution this time around. But if it did happen, I wouldn’t hit the figurative “Oh, Shit!” button to quickly, because, “In Hahn we Trust.”