If you were hoping the Manny Machado-to-the-Cubs talk was going to go away soon, you might not want to hold your breath. Rumors swirled this winter as the Cubs reportedly discussed a package that included Addison Russell and Mike Montgomery, but there was never any significant traction as the Orioles stood firm on some unreasonable expectations of other teams.
The rumor flames have been fanned throughout the early part of the season as the O’s have proven to be an afterthought in the AL East and Machado has displayed an elite bat. And even though Theo Epstein has gone on record as saying the Cubs will not pay premium prices for a rental, Jon Heyman is reporting that the team is still targeting the shortstop, who’ll be a free agent after this season.
The Chicago Cubs will take a look at acquiring superstar shortstop Manny Machado, sources say. Machado was speculated by FRS Sports a few weeks back as a likely candidate for the Cubs, with Addison Russell seen as part of a possible package for the Orioles, and word now is that he is the Cubs’ main target at the deadline.
The Cubs are one of nine teams to talk to the Orioles about Machado over the winter when Baltimore was fielding offers – the others were the Phillies, Cardinals, White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Red Sox. The Dodgers might be the most logical landing spot for Machado due to the season-ending elbow injury to their star shortstop Corey Seager, but with the Dodgers in a situation where they have multiple issues in an awful, injury-wracked start, the Cubs could come to the forefront.
Huh, so that’s cool. Heyman also lists the D-backs, Indians, and Cardinals as potential suitors, but notes that most contenders are pretty well set on the left side of the infield. As such, the Cubs would make sense because they could swap Machado and Addison Russell.
As we’ve discussed here before, particularly in light of Epstein’s comments (see link above for more), the Cubs would probably like to work out an extension with Machado prior to swinging a big deal. They’d surely like to have the chance to at least discuss one, an option Orioles’ leadership reportedly denied in earlier conversations. Then again, they may not actually view such a blockbuster as “paying a premium.”
I know that sounds odd, but we have to assume that the cost to acquire the O’s superstar has dropped significantly since talks began. Not only would he be with his new team for only a portion of the season, but having him for less than a year also means that said team will not receive a compensatory pick should he leave in free agency.
And while Machado has been vocal about wanting to test those waters, the Cubs are uniquely suited to getting him to come off of that stance. They’re set up to win now and in the future, he’d be able to play short, and he’d get to fulfill his childhood dream of playing alongside his best friend, Albert Almora Jr.
Russell would be a big price to pay, and there’s reason to believe the Cubs would have to part with even more. But if Epstein and Co. believe that this trade gives them a better chance to win the division and the World Series both this season and beyond, how could they not do it?
This is all still rumor and speculation at this point, of course, but we’ve seen more than enough smoke by now to believe that a fire could indeed be burning somewhere. Stay tuned.