Wednesday night was the final night of the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, and while we all thought that the White Sox were going to be the “wallflowers” of the annual meetings, Rick Hahn managed to spin White Sox Twitter into an uproar by tossing his name into the hat for Baltimore Orioles’ slugger Manny Machado.
Initially the news that the Orioles were seriously engaging in trade discussions came from Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com who reported that Baltimore had made “good progress” as of Wednesday afternoon regarding a Machado trade, and were dealing with five unnamed teams. That report surfaced at about 2:30 pm (CT).
OK, no biggie right? Wrong.
A few hours later on Wednesday evening, Dan Clark (of most recently, The Big Leagues Daily) reported that the White Sox were among four teams discussing Machado with the Orioles on Wednesday evening. The other three were the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals.
What the White Sox were willing to move to the Orioles in return for Machado was not known at the time, but the rumors and speculation exploded across social media. The common thought was that with the Yankees and the Red Sox being in the same division as Baltimore, the price would be lower for the White Sox due to the Orioles potential reluctance to swap Machado with a division foe.
Around 8:00 pm (CT) it was reported by multiple sources that the White Sox, Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies and Giants had made formal offers to the Orioles for Machado.
After hours of no new movement on the talks, I reached out to a long-time Baltimore Orioles writer and radio personality Stan Charles, who shared his opinion on the matter with me;
“There are two major obstacles to the Orioles trading Machado – and they work together like a Catch 22.”
“1- The player has almost all the leverage. Not the simple way that Giancarlo Stanton held the power, but what team is going to give up the kind of package the Orioles would want without gaining some sort of window to negotiate w/ and sign the player? 2- Without obtaining a meaningful return (and no, sorry don’t think Cease and Lopez is what Duquette and O’s are looking for) what is their point in trading the player?”
“I’d be stunned if they traded Machado now, mainly because that leverage at the top will keep the team from getting any value for the player.”
This conversation between Stan and I took place at about 10:30 pm (CT) and of course, Stan was sharing his well-informed and experienced opinion with me as a professional courtesy, and not intending to break or deny any news to the general public. That being said, I trust his opinion and nothing I have heard in the hours since then has changed that to this point.
Around Midnight, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic ran a story, reporting that the White Sox had emerged as the front-runners for Machado, stressing that the White Sox had the strongest offer on the table, and that it would include either Lucas Giolito or Michael Kopech as the headliner in the deal.
Rosenthal is about as in tune with these moves and rumors as anyone in the world, and I’m sure that what he reported is accurate, but being the most aggressive, and actually having a conceivable chance at landing Machado are two completely different things.
News supporting Rosenthal continued to emerge from multiple sources on Thursday morning, indicating that the White Sox were the front-runners, and that the Orioles were becoming more aggressive in talks.
I wrote on Wednesday evening why my gut told me that this wouldn’t happen, and I also dove into the reasons why it wouldn’t surprise me if the White Sox actually made this deal this week, a year ahead of where most thought the Machado talks would occur. While some think that the White Sox would be crazy to make an offer the Orioles couldn’t refuse, Rick Hahn conveyed that sometimes, a calculated risk is the move worth making.
“Is it conceivable? Yes,” Hahn said playfully. “Never dare to dream.”
“Sometimes you need to be creative. Sometimes you need to perhaps take a risk. I think it’s probably slightly easier after a player has been part of this organization, understand what we’re about, to extend him as opposed to meeting him cold free agent and trying to sell him on the organization.
We’ve had success with both, so we’re not afraid to do either, but perhaps there is a little advantage from time to time to have a guy already be on campus when you’re talking about extending him into the future. You guys have heard from a many of players how much they enjoy being with us, how they want to stay here, they want to be part of this rebuild. That’s in part due to the type of guys we’ve brought in and in part due to the culture and direction we’ve created.”
Where we’re at now, is the White Sox are dangling Lucas Giolito as a headliner in a deal that will likely include another arm and a bat going to the Orioles. Early this morning before I went to bed I ran a poll on Twitter posing this question, “If the White Sox were to send Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Blake Rutherford to Baltimore, with the White Sox confident that they could extend Machado, would you pull the trigger?” Over eight hours later, 68 percent said they would in fact make that move.
At this point my feelings are this, if Rick Hahn (who has been the man with the plan throughout this rebuild) believes that he can land Machado for Giolito plus a pair of lesser prospects, and can extend Machado before the July 31 trade deadline next summer, then he should absolutely do it.
I trust that Hahn is making a very cautious and calculated risk here, and if he is willing to include Giolito, he is bullish on him anyways. Michael Kopech, is likely off limits in any deal, and rightfully so. Giolito profiles as a solid number three in a good rotation, a consistent 200-inning, middle of the rotation starter for the White Sox in the coming years, given the talent that the White Sox have in the system.
The White Sox are loaded with arms in their system, losing Giolito for a live audition and a potential shot at locking up one of the best players in baseball for the long-term is a risk I’m willing to get behind, especially with the insurance valve of being able to flip Machado before next summer’s trade deadline if he doesn’t intend to stay in Chicago long term.
With the Yankees and the Red Sox unlikely destinations due to being in the same division as Baltimore, and the Cardinals and Giants offers not matching up to the strength of the White Sox offer, the White Sox are going to land Machado if he goes anywhere. The question is, are the two sides for real?
Many fans are too shell-shocked from the Kenny Williams “win-now” days to conceive this as a viable notion, and that’s absolutely fair to a certain extent, but it shouldn’t be discarded that if Rick Hahn is making a push for Machado, he is doing so with extreme calculation and caution.