At first glance, it’s hard to see why the Chicago White Sox would have any interest in a Manny Machado trade. Look a little closer and you can start talking yourself into it making sense. Wipe your eyes and do a double take and it’s extremely clear to see why the Baltimore Orioles would want the White Sox involved in Machado talks.
Early Thursday morning, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the White Sox were an “aggressive suitor” for the All-Star third baseman/shortstop. Confirmations trickled in, including from the Chicago beat, which makes for an interesting discussion: Why would the rebuilding White Sox want a player with one year of control remaining before free agency?
From the White Sox perspective, they should be interested and making offers on any great young player. They have the prospects to make any deal they want without crippling their farm system. Their competitive window will be closer a year from now, when the White Sox could theoretically sign Machado to a huge extension and it makes sense. Machado will be 26 and fits into the age group the White Sox would look to invest in.
Machado could play shortstop, moving current shortstop Tim Anderson to another position, or to the Orioles in the deal. Yoan Moncada fits at second. Machado could play third if Anderson stays at short. There’s also the option of acquiring him now only to flip him for what the team believes is more at the deadline when teams are more desperate and the Yankees can be involved, since they don’t seem to be an option now due to Baltimore ownership.
Making an offer makes sense. The offer doesn’t necessarily have to include all of their best prospects. A ‘strong’ offer from the White Sox could still mean prospects in the 8-13 range, because that offer might be as strong as someone else can offer. You also have to consider the Orioles’ leverage. It’s doubtful the team receiving Machado will receive an exclusive negotiating window, so whoever acquires him gets him for one season knowing it’ll become a major bidding war with no guarantees next offseason. The Orioles can ask for the moon and will likely have to settle for far less, at least in December.
That leverage is why the White Sox inclusion makes perfect sense.
If you’re the Orioles, you need as many teams interested on December 14 because no one is desperate yet. You need teams like the White Sox and Phillies involved now because they won’t be in July. And if you’re going to pick a perfect partner in terms of return, you’re picking the White Sox because they have the best farm system.
If word gets out that the offers are all second to the White Sox, a team like the St. Louis Cardinals may have to up their offer to get a player that actually helps them reach a realistic goal in 2018, which is to catch the Chicago Cubs and/or return to the postseason.
None of this is to say Rosenthal or anyone else is false reporting. I believe the White Sox would make an offer, it could be perceived as strong and could be perceived as the best. All of those things also favor the Orioles in negotiation, especially when it becomes public.
Some in the front office could also see it as beneficial to leak this out to show fans they’re interested in the top players in baseball. But it’s hard to forget the last time Rick Hahn really wanted to make a deal, a press release broke the first and only news of Jose Quintana going to the Cubs for new top prospect Eloy Jimenez.
It all makes sense. Mostly for the Orioles.
By Tommy Stokke