It is my uncomfortable duty to inform you that trade talks between the Brewers and Orioles about Manny Machado have reached the point where not only are names being exchanged, but the sides are digging in on trade specifics. That doesn’t mean a trade is going to happen – there are certainly other suitors still involved, including the Dodgers and Yankees – but it does mean this is a very real possibility.
Moreover, if you’re hoping the Brewers have to totally plunder their farm system to make a deal happen, that seems very unlikely.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark:
Latest on Machado: https://t.co/3eZ0j9qn2J $
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 10, 2018
Just talked to an exec of one club involved in this who said of the Orioles:
"They're not getting a Gleyber Torres in this deal. This is not a situation like the Cubs (trading for Aroldis Chapman). There's no team (involved) that hasn't won a World Series in 108 years." https://t.co/VErENuhtlh
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 10, 2018
You’ll have to subscribe to The Athletic to get the particulars, but one player who is reportedly holding up the deal is 23-year-old righty Corbin Burnes, who ranks 58th to Baseball America right now, and 56 to MLB Pipeline. He’s a guy who is expected to be a big league starter, but not necessarily a front-of-the-rotation type. He tore up High-A and AA last year, but has seen more middling results in his first go at AAA.
Absent context and on its face, that sounds like the kind of guy the Brewers should be very *happy* to part with as the centerpiece in a deal for a true impact talent. But if he’s instead the line at which the Brewers are drawing a “no,” you do wonder – as Stark says – just how much Machado may or may not ultimately cost. Keep in mind, he does have a substantial salary this year ($16 million), which will be a non-zero consideration for the market, given how many teams are luxury-tax-conscious, including the Yankees and Dodgers.
I do want to mention one other thing, though, about the price tag on Machado: it does not make sense to me to compare it, in any way, to what the Cubs gave up to get Aroldis Chapman two years ago. For one thing, there’s that salary consideration, which is non-zero (Chapman was making a little over $11 million that year). For another thing, there’s the fact that Gleyber Torres was in the prospect range then that Burnes is now – he didn’t blow up into a top 10-type prospect until after the trade, and then after the Fall League that year. Who’s to say that wasn’t in part because the Yankees worked with him on some things that maybe the Cubs wouldn’t have? We can’t know.
But the main difference is the nature of the player being traded, and the teams involved. If you’re a club with an enormous divisional lead at the deadline, and thus already know basically for sure that you’re headed to the playoffs, the one type of player – SPECIFICALLY, the one type of player – you can absolutely justify paying out the nose to acquire is an elite reliever. In the playoffs, their value is magnified and disproportionate thanks to the ability to ride them hard, and to deploy them strategically at the most important moments.
A position player is a position player, subject to very typical deployment and the usual ups and downs that come with baseball being baseball. A valuable addition for a team like the Brewers? Absolutely. The same calculus when figuring out how much impact the player can have on winning in the postseason? Not even remotely close.
So, then, if you find in the end that Machado is dealt – to the Brewers or otherwise – for a return that seems far less than certain other rentals that hysterical types will point to, you can tell them to chill, baby. It’s not the same.
Moreover, I’m not so sure the Brewers are wrong to hold tightly to a chip like Burnes. It’s not clear to me just yet that the market will justify them giving up a piece like that, even if – absent all other consideration – that seems like a no-brainer on its face.
Oh, but also … I still really don’t want to see the Brewers acquiring Machado, so I hope the Orioles also hold the line and then move him elsewhere …