MLB Betting: Where Will Manny Machado Wind Up?
It’s July, which means Major League Baseball trade rumors are starting to heat up. The non-waiver trade deadline is coming up on July 31, which means contenders are going to start jockeying for playoff position. On the other end of the spectrum, the teams that are out of it may be looking to sell on some established players in order to build with an eye on the future.
This past winter’s crop of free agents was rather underwhelming, but we will see some truly massive names hit the market at the end of this season. Baltimore’s Manny Machado, Washington’s Bryce Harper and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw figure to headline what could be a rather expensive crop of free agents. Kershaw isn’t going anywhere before the deadline, while the Nationals are also likely to hang on to Harper with the hopes of making a World Series run before he leaves for a massive payday.
With the Orioles languishing in last place in the AL East by a wide margin, Machado has emerged as the hottest name on the trade block. The O’s are a notoriously stingy franchise that seems highly unlikely to meet his contract demands in the offseason, so Baltimore should likely cash-out now while they still can. Machado won’t net them as much in terms of prospects as he would, had they opted to trade him earlier, but he still won’t come cheap. Any team acquiring Machado will still have to pay a fairly hefty price.
So if Machado is on the move, where will he wind up?
Milwaukee Brewers +225
The Brewers haven’t been relevant in the playoff chase a whole lot in recent years, but the 2018 squad looks like it isn’t going away. Last year’s team got off to a strong start before ultimately succumbing to the Cubs, but Milwaukee reloaded during the offseason by signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich. With a rich pipeline of talent in the farm system alongside a strong big league roster, the Brewers look primed to try and win as soon as possible.
Milwaukee has been linked quite often with interest in Machado, which is rather curious. Yes, they do have a hole at shortstop and literally, any team in baseball would say “yes” to the chance to add a player of his caliber to their roster. That said, the Brewers have a pretty obvious weakness in the starting staff. With Cain, Yelich, Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Ryan Braun in the lineup, there are already plenty of quality bats in the fold. This is a team that has Domingo Santana, a guy that hit 30 homers last year, riding the pine because there isn’t room for him.
You would think Milwaukee would be more interested in upgrading the rotation. The bullpen, led by Josh Hader and Corey Knebel, is excellent. But the starting staff includes Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra and Brent Suter. These aren’t bad pitchers, but there isn’t an ace among them.
Former major league GM Jim Bowden reported on Wednesday that the Brewers have made an offer for Machado that includes outfielder Keon Broxton, shortstop Orlando Arcia and right-hander Corbin Burnes. Jon Heyman subsequently shot that rumor down, but it sounds as though Milwaukee does have legitimate interest here.
The added wrinkle here is that Machado would almost surely leave Milwaukee in the winter, so the Brewers would be trading for him with the knowledge that he’d only be a Brewer for a few months. There aren’t a ton of hefty salaries on Milwaukee’s current payroll, but this isn’t a team known to spend the big bucks all that often. Will Milwaukee be willing to mortgage part of their future in order to go all-in on a World Series run in 2018? I feel like the player’s asking price will be too high for the Brewers to meet, so I have a hard time envisioning a trade coming to fruition.
I’ll pass on Machado to Milwaukee at +225.
Philadelphia Phillies +350
Now this is a scenario that looks more plausible. Heyman has reported that Machado is atop the Phillies’ wish list, and they’re one of the teams that could trade for him while also being able to sign him to a long-term deal after the season.
The Phillies also have enough prospects to where they should be able to meet Baltimore’s asking price. Young shortstop J.P. Crawford figures to be dangled as one of the centerpieces, while third baseman Maikel Franco also figures to interest the Orioles, at least to some degree. Scott Kingery, whose playing time may vanish completely if Machado goes to Philly, may also wind up in Baltimore.
Machado may also consider joining the Phillies as a free agent. If Philly is not convinced that they can make a realistic World Series run this year, might they do better to just hold off on dealing prospects for a guy they could just sign outright in the winter? That’s a riskier avenue to take, but it all depends on how the Phillies’ brass really feels about their odds of 2018 title contention.
A more realistic scenario probably involves the Phillies trading lesser prospects for a player that can fill their needs at another position. I expect Philadelphia to be uber-aggressive in free agency this winter. If they want to expedite the process they can trade for Machado now. Doing so would give them a chance to sell the player on committing his future to them. I think Machado winding up with the Phillies is more plausible than him winding up with the Brewers, but neither is all that likely at this stage.
New York Yankees +400
Ah, the Yankees. The Evil Empire made the splashiest move of last year’s offseason when they traded for defending National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to add even more power to a power-heavy lineup. The Yankees have been linked with Bryce Harper quite a bit in recent months, but might it be Machado that actually tops their list of potential targets?
On Tuesday, it was reported that the Orioles may be willing to deal their franchise centerpiece to a division rival if the Yankees include top prospect Justus Sheffield. The left-handed pitcher is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, so Baltimore would obviously do well to land a player of his caliber in any deal.
Would Brian Cashman actually deal Sheffield? That remains to be seen. The southpaw was the top prize in the 2016 trade that sent star reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. Sheffield has a 2.53 ERA so far at Triple-A this season, and it’s only a matter of time until we see him in pinstripes. Unless he’s traded, of course.
There was another report that said the Yankees could land Machado and closer Zach Britton in a deal that sent Domingo German, Brandon Drury and Clint Frazier the other way. That trade looks so lopsided that you have to believe Baltimore would want more. The O’s balked at trading Britton to the Astros last year.
The Yankees are also in the same boat as the Phillies. The current New York roster is almost surely good enough to win a World Series, and they figure to have interest in Machado once he becomes a free agent in a few months. Is it worth punting on a prospect like Sheffield just to get a player you could sign a few months down the road? That’s the decision Cashman has to be weighing right now.
Adding Machado to a lineup that features Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres has to be quite the temptation for Cashman. Of course, the Yankees, like the Brewers, seem to have a more glaring need in the rotation than they do in the lineup. Miguel Andujar has more than held his own at third base this season, so Machado would be more of a luxury than a massive upgrade.
It’s still the Yankees, though, so nothing is impossible. The profit potential on New York at +400 is strong enough for me to pull the trigger.
Los Angeles Dodgers +450
The Dodgers are another team that has long been linked with Harper, but they do have a need for a guy like Machado in the immediate future. Corey Seager has been gone for a while after being forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor are capable fill-ins at shortstop, but the Dodgers could also use another thunderous bat from the right side of the plate. Obviously, Machado fits the bill.
Will the Dodgers actually trade the prospects necessary? The L.A. front office has been reluctant to part ways with some of their blue chippers in recent years, choosing instead to upgrade their roster from within and unearthing hidden gems like Taylor, Max Muncy and Ross Stripling. So far so good, but the Dodgers still haven’t been able to capture that elusive World Series title.
Having Seager and Justin Turner entrenched on the left side of the infield also presents a complication for potentially landing Machado. The Dodgers almost certainly won’t forfeit top prospects if it means they will lose Machado in the offseason. Someone like Turner could certainly be dealt, but he has been one of the team’s mainstays in recent years. Harper makes for a better fit given the team’s current roster construction.
Ken Rosenthal reported that the Dodgers have been discussing prospects with the Orioles, so perhaps there’s some smoke to this fire. Right-hander Dustin May and infielder Gavin Lux are reportedly interesting to Baltimore. That could be a stumbling block for the Dodgers, who don’t seem too eager to give up either of them.
I’ll pass on L.A. at +450. I think they would prefer Harper.
Arizona Diamondbacks +800
The Diamondbacks quietly have just about everything you’d need from a World Series contender. With Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Steven Souza Jr. and A.J. Pollock, there is plenty of thunder in the lineup. Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley looks like a deep and talented rotation, as well.
Another strong right-handed bat like Machado’s could certainly come in handy. Lamb is stable at third base, but Arizona’s combination of Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings at shortstop leaves something to be desired. Machado’s own defense at the position has been sketchy this season, but the Diamondbacks would almost surely be acquiring him with the plan to play him at short.
We saw the Diamondbacks land a massively important bat in J.D. Martinez at the deadline last year. While Machado may not have that same kind of impact, I imagine Arizona would jump at the chance to pick him up if the price is right. It remains to be seen whether the Diamondbacks would be able to sign him, however, especially after spending huge money on Greinke a few years ago.
I think this is an interesting sleeper. Arizona has been quite aggressive over the last few years. They’re desperate to take the NL West dynasty away from the Dodgers, and if landing Machado helps them get there, I think they’ll be tempted. At +800, this is a great value to target.
Atlanta Braves +1200
The Braves find themselves in the same boat as the Phillies. Both teams have young rosters that are surprisingly competing at the top of the NL East. Both teams got good sooner than most expected, and they figure to be around for a while with so much youth in the mix.
While the Braves have been a great story, I feel as though their starting pitching overall is still a hair behind the Phillies’. That could ultimately be what dooms them in a head-to-head showdown. I trust Philly’s quintet of Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, Nate Pivetta and Zach Eflin a little more than I do Atlanta’s starting staff of Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb, Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy.
That said, the Braves do have a pretty dire need at third base. Johan Camargo hasn’t been terrible over there, but he’s no Manny Machado. I could also see Atlanta having interest in someone like Mike Moustakas, but Machado carries far more upside.
The Braves do have money to spend in the winter, so they could be a team to watch when it comes to the big names. If they’re looking to make a splash, they certainly have enough prospects to get a deal done. You can definitely do worse than a flier on the Braves at +1200, but I’d rather target Arizona at a similar number.
Chicago Cubs +1400
This one looks more like a pipe dream than anything else. Addison Russell hasn’t become the player the Cubs may have hoped, but this is yet another team with more question marks on the pitching staff than in the lineup. We saw the Cubs win the World Series a couple of years ago with a very similar lineup to the one they run out there on a regular basis today.
The Cubs sold the farm to the Yankees to get Aroldis Chapman in 2016, which turned out well for both sides. A move for Machado at this point would look quite similar, though he isn’t as necessary as Chapman was to the team 2 years ago. While the Orioles might prefer to ship Machado to the National League, there are plenty of other suitors that make more sense than the Cubs.
Chicago is a team to watch when it comes to Machado in the winter, but they won’t fork over the prospects to trade for him now.
Cleveland Indians +1600
If the Indians were to trade for Machado, one would imagine they would shift Jose Ramirez to second base and slot Machado in at third. Despite Machado’s insistence that he’s a shortstop, the Tribe isn’t going to displace Francisco Lindor any time soon. If Machado winds up in Cleveland, he’ll play third whether he likes it or not.
In a prospective deal with the Indians, Jon Morosi reported that Baltimore would require one of Cleveland’s top pitching prospects. That means either Shane Bieber or Triston McKenzie.
The Indians don’t have a ton of impetus to make this move. They’re already essentially a lock to win the watered-down AL Central, and Machado wouldn’t increase their championship hopes by all that much. Dumping a potential frontline starter for a luxury rental makes no sense. So, I’ll say no thanks to the Tribe at +1600.
I’ll rank my favorite destinations for Machado as follows:
- Arizona Diamondbacks +800
- Philadelphia Phillies +350
- New York Yankees +400
- Atlanta Braves +1200
- Los Angeles Dodgers +450
- Milwaukee Brewers +225
- Chicago Cubs +1400
- Cleveland Indians +1600