Overnight, Ken Rosenthal dropped a surprising report about the Manny Machado sweepstakes:
A surprising team emerges as the most aggressive suitor for Machado. The latest: https://t.co/8emZ0hh1yH $
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2017
You can read Rosenthal’s report for the particulars, but you can see enough on its face to cock an eyebrow.
The White Sox have executed one of the better rebuilds (to their current stage, in any case) in recent years, wisely selling off pieces over time for future assets while focusing their spending on building up prospect currency. In a smart rebuild, eventually, you use that prospect current to acquire big league pieces. So, check and check.
But if the White Sox aren’t yet ready to be a serious contender in 2018, would using that prospect currency to acquire one year of Machado control be the wisest move? Sure, maybe they’d just be planning to spin him off to another team for prospects (like the Yankees, who may not be able to trade with the Orioles directly), but it’s hard to see the Orioles letting that fly. You’d have to convince them that you really do want this guy for your own team.
And that argument looks like … we think we’re ready? We think we can sign him to a long-term deal if we get the first crack at him? Don’t get me wrong, Machado would absolutely fit with the White Sox’s long-term timeline, but that’s a big bet in a trade without a whole lot of certainty.
So then I circle back to whether the White Sox believe they can be a surprise team in 2018. We’ve seen it before with young, up-and-coming clubs, especially in the current era, where the game gets younger and younger every year. If Yoan Moncada blows up, if Eloy Jimenez rockets up to the big leagues, if Avisail Garcia can be really good, if the young pitching immediately shows up, and if Machado is all-universe … maybe you can squint and see a contender in an AL Central that might have two rebuilding clubs (Tigers, Royals) to beat up on. I don’t really see it. I see a 2019 breakout for the White Sox as much more plausible.
This is interesting. If nothing else, perhaps it drives up the price if the Cardinals are set on trying to land Machado.