Twice given the opportunity to touch upon the current blazing trade rumors surrounding the Cubs and Manny Machado, team president Theo Epstein has done his best to push back against them.
Earlier this month, he noted that trading premium talent for a rental is not something, as a rule, the Cubs are super into.
The latest rebuke came today in an interview with Mully and Hanley on 670 The Score, when Epstein referred to the current wave of rumors – without referencing Machado by name, obviously – as a “spasm of media frenzy.” Lulz. That’s art.
About the frenzy, though, Epstein said it was “outrageously outsized when you compare it to the reality of the situation.” It’s still way too early to know what the Cubs will be come July, let alone what they might need. Are the Cubs going to be competitive when it comes time to make a big trade decision? That’s a tough question to answer in May, especially when it looks like the team has already underperformed.
“There’s an atypical amount of trade discussion in May this year, which is essentially nil,” Epstein continued. “I understand it’s natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it’s honestly something we’re looking at and just rolling our eyes at. It’s not like July, where every now and then there’s lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen. This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point.”
I still tend to think that the Cubs will of course consider a Manny Machado trade (now, and in June, and in July), but more out of a sense of covering all of their bases than a sense of WE-MUST-TRADE-FOR-THIS-GUY-TO-SAVE-THE-SEASON. The Cubs were in on Machado in the offseason, but no trade came to fruition. That could suggest that the two sides already were unable to find the right fit, and it may prove to be even more difficult to find the right fit when there are only two months left in the season during which a team like the Cubs could actually get value from Machado. (Of course, the flip side to that is that sometimes having had previous talks can help facilitate a future deal because the sides already have a decent sense of where the other stands. There’s a lot less required footsie.)
We’ve said all along that the rumors would swirl heavily and early on this front thanks to how certain everyone is that Machado will be traded this year. But, as Epstein is no doubt correct in saying, we all just have to remember that the “rumors” at this stage are more along the lines of informed speculation than talks that are actually occurring between the teams.
Just try to enjoy the ride without getting sucked too far into fantasy land …