Cubs Realistically Have the *OPTION* of Trading for Manny Machado, and/or Signing in Free Agency

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Cubs Realistically Have the *OPTION* of Trading for Manny Machado, and/or Signing in Free Agency

Chicago Cubs

Obligatory Manny Machado preamble: I’m not fundamentally opposed to the Cubs being among the teams that explore a trade for Machado this Trade Deadline, but I am not someone who is already “there”. I’m content to let Addison Russell continue to hold down the fort at shortstop, develop, and we’ll see where things stand come late July. In fact, absent a relative crumbling of the trade market for Machado (and/or a serious injury or complete tanking of performance), I’d just as soon give Russell the full year, and then evaluate things again in free agency.

All that said, my preferred path wouldn’t matter if the Cubs aren’t going to have the financial might to play in the deep end of the free agent pool again this offseason if the front office decides they want to target another big player. There have already been signs that the Cubs will indeed be willing to spend big for the right guy, even if it means going over the luxury tax cap this offseason, and now we have a little more evidence to support that desirable financial position.

Gordon Wittenmyer writes about the Cubs-Machado situation, and, among the bits in his article is a note from Cubs owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts that suggests the front office will have the discretion to be more or less aggressive on players during a competitive window, depending on what they see as the right move. Good.

To be sure, my gut says that there would need to be some special permission to (1) lock in a $300+ million contract (on Machado or, for example, Bryce Harper) and (2) exceed the luxury tax cap, but I also think that as revenues continue to explode for the Cubs, the Ricketts Family will be increasingly amenable to the direction of the front office. You don’t get too many chances to add a 26-year-old superstar talent for only money, and I expect the Cubs to be in the Machado and Harper conversations this offseason.

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

But what about at the Trade Deadline? That, of course, remains to be seen.

I don’t see a version of a trade working – for a variety of reasons – without Addison Russell included, which raises questions on both sides of the prospective deal. Are the Cubs actually willing to give up on Addison Russell at this point (he’s 24!) for a Machado rental, and a little extra time to show him what it would be like to be a Cub in the hopes they can then land him on a $300 million deal? And are the Orioles actually interested in a shortstop already in his arbitration years in exchange for Machado? How much more would the Cubs have to add? And would they?

David Schoenfield sized up the field for potential Machado trade suitors, and, despite the fact that the Dodgers and Cubs seem to be the teams you hear about the most (and, yes, they are discussed), there are actually a number of teams out there that make a lot of sense already, including the Mets, the Braves, the Brewers, and the Cardinals.

Machado will be traded somewhere at some point, and, setting aside subsequent free agent considerations, his movement could have a direct impact on the Cubs. Notice anything about those trade candidates? They’re all in the National League, where the playoff races figure to be much closer.

From there, Machado will almost certainly not sign an extension, so the best that team will get is a rental, and the chance to start selling him before other teams can talk to him.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.