The Diamondbacks and Orioles have had trade talks surrounding star shortstop Manny Machado this season, as MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports, though he classifies the communication as “due diligence” at the moment:
Sources: #DBacks, #Orioles have been in contact about a possible Manny Machado trade this season. Dialogue remains open between the clubs. This is viewed as due diligence on Arizona’s part as the team’s needs become clear. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 19, 2018
Machado, who many believed would be dealt last offseason, is widely regarded as the top trade target at this year’s deadline. The 25-year-old is a free agent at season’s end and is unlikely to re-sign with Baltimore, and he’s posted a .310/.377/.567 slash line with 18 homers in 302 plate appearances entering play on Tuesday.
The Dodgers and Cubs have been the teams most frequently talked about as suitors for Machado in recent months, but with the Cubs seeming set at shortstop and third base with Addison Russell and Kris Bryant and the Dodgers perhaps being too beat up to justify selling the farm this summer, Arizona could be a surprise suitor for Machado’s services. A trade would mark the second earth-shattering mid-season trade in as many years for the Diamondbacks, who seem intent on trying to win it all before Paul Goldschmidt’s contract expires following the 2019 season. They added some major punch to the middle of their lineup last summer by acquiring J.D. Martinez from the Tigers.
If traded to the Diamondbacks, Machado would presumably slot in as the shortstop, replacing Nick Ahmed, who has posted a less-than-stellar .227/.289/.431 slash line this season and has regressed a bit as a defender since undergoing hip surgery (though he still ranks as one of the better defensive shortstops in the majors). For what it’s worth, Machado poses a rather significant defensive liability at short according to most advanced metrics, so Arizona would be downgrading in the field if it were to make that move. It’s possible that they could work out some type of arrangement where Machado would start at third base against lefties — giving a break to Jake Lamb, who has a .158/.333/.211 slash line against left-handed pitchers, while allowing Ahmed, who has a .293/.346/.573 line against them, to start — and then play short against righties with Lamb starting at third.
There aren’t a ton of teams that make sense for Machado at the trade deadline — unless he’s willing to immediately sign a contract extension with a fringe playoff contender or non-contender, of course — but Arizona still may not have what it takes to acquire him without dealing someone off their major-league roster. Right-handed starter Jon Duplantier and first baseman Pavin Smith are their only prospects ranked among MLB Pipeline’s top 100, and as a whole the farm system isn’t considered to be very deep. Arizona has one of the older rosters in baseball, so the players who would be attractive to the soon-to-be-rebuilding Orioles would seemingly be very few, with infielder Ketel Marte being by far the most obvious one.