I feel like I have to reiterate up front – just to be crystal clear – that I’m a huge Manny Machado fan. How could you not be? He’s one of the best defenders in the game at third base, and probably would be fantastic at shortstop, too. He pairs that with the potential to be among the top 10 bats in the league, making him one of the most valuable players in the game.
But, as we discussed this weekend, the idea that the Chicago Cubs should part with four cost-controlled years of Addison Russell for one $17+-million season of Machado is an extraordinary head-scratcher for me.
And now Ken Rosenthal is making the suggestion, too, while adding Mike Montgomery to the deal!
In his latest at The Athletic, Rosenthal takes a look at the Machado trade talks, and assesses his market. It’s a comprehensive piece, of which the Cubs-related bit is only a small sliver. So please keep this in context, and consider Rosenthal’s whole piece.
That Cubs-related bit has Rosenthal including the Cubs among just six teams for which he discusses a particular fit, and suggesting that the Cubs should move Russell AND Montgomery in the trade for Machado. Russell, 23, is scheduled to make about $2.3 million in his first of four arbitration years, and Montgomery, 28, isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet.
I love me some Rosenthal, but this is madness.
It was bad enough this weekend when we discussed the suggestion that the Cubs should move Russell for Machado, but to add Montgomery to the deal simply because it makes sense from the Orioles’ perspective and because Montgomery has expressed a desire to start, well, I just can’t understand it. You’re getting Machado for 2018, only, and I’m not even sure this trade – which costs the Cubs a combined SIX SEASONS of Russell and Montgomery AFTER 2018 – is that much of an upgrade for the Cubs in 2018!
Machado is projected to be worth 6.2 WAR in 2018, according to Steamer (we don’t have ZiPS or PECOTA yet). Russell projects to be worth 2.8 WAR, and Montgomery projects to be worth 1.6 WAR (in a uniquely-valuable swing role, I’d add). So then, in 2018, the swap bumps you a projected 1.8 WAR. That’s it. *AND* it costs you $14 to $15 million more in salary! So, essentially, for 2018, the Cubs could have Russell, Montgomery, and someone like Alex Cobb, or they could have Machado. Close call, right? You’re giving up six seasons of Russell and Montgomery to get to that close call! (Oh, and Rosenthal suggests the Cubs also include a prospect for good measure.)
I understand that these are fun discussions, and I understand that Machado is such a compelling player that almost every contender has to at least have the talk. I don’t disparage anyone who wants to get into this.
From where I sit, though, making the Cubs fit for a Machado trade is a really sideways adventure, and you’ll almost always keep landing in a spot where it doesn’t make sense.