Why Mike Hazen should trade for Manny Machado

First off, it seems like the Orioles want to keep Machado this year as they just announced he will play shortstop this summer as Tim Beckham will move over to third base. With that said, the Diamondbacks have been rumored as heavily as anyone to be discussing a possible trade with the Orioles front office. The Diamondbacks should continue to stay in discussion with Orioles GM Dan Duquette and pounce if they get a reasonable offer.

D-Backs Current Roster Issues

After a year in which the D-Backs won the NL Wild Card Game, fans saw the return to health from players like AJ Pollock and Patrick Corbin. Although Pollock didn’t necessarily impress with a slash line of .266/.330/.471, Pat Corbin showed flashes of the past with a 4.03 ERA in 189.2 innings after a 5.15 ERA in 2016.

While these two will be big focal points behind Goldschmidt, Greinke, and Ray, they are both free agents at the end of the year. With Goldschmidt needing an extension the next summer and Yasmany Tomas’ atrocious contract that ends in 2020, in all likelihood, Corbin and Pollock won’t both be on the roster come Opening Day 2019.

Win Now Situation

The D-Backs are in a win now situation because of Pollock and Corbin’s incoming free agency. With a limited payroll, signing JD Martinez is just not possible unless Greinke or Tomas’ contract is unloaded. No one wants Tomas because of his lack of contact, defense, speed and health, and Greinke really needs to stay to continue to lead and help form the minds of our young pitchers like Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Shelby Miller, Zack Godley, and Braden Shipley.

Last season, only four teams had a better record than the D-Backs: the Dodgers, Indians, Nationals, and Astros. The D-Backs won 93 games which tied the Red Sox and was more than the Yankees, Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals. One thing you notice about the teams that we had more wins than is that they have all now made moves to get substantially better this offseason.

The Yankees got Stanton and somehow cut payroll at the same time. The Cubs solidified a bullpen with Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek. The Brewers shocked the world with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain both joining the team last week in less than 24 hours. And the Cardinals added Marcell Ozuna along with a few solid pitchers like Luke Gregerson, Miles Mikolas, and Dominic Leone.

But what have the Dodgers done this offseason? They traded for Matt Kemp and lost veteran pitching depth in Scott Kazmir and former snake, Brandon McCarthy. Although Yu Darvish might still be in play, it looks like this might be an in-between year for the Dodgers as they prepare for next winter’s free agent class.

The Rockies and Giants have been fairly busy this offseason as the Rockies have a signed a “super ‘pen” in Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw. The Giants have traded for two superstars that are just outside of their prime in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.

The Padres have 7 top 100 prospects in MLB.com’s update list which hosts our top prospects Jon Duplantier (73) and Pavin Smith (91) too. But the Padres have some real prospects that will make them competitive within the next three year in MacKenzie Gore, Fernando Tatis Jr., Michael Baez, and Luis Urias.

The bottom line is that the D-Backs are in the contention for a Wild Card position again, but everyone around them has gotten better this offseason while the D-Backs have been fairly inactive.

As we saw last year, adding one bat like JD Martinez can make a huge impact. The Dodgers were just a better team that was bound to make a run after a magical regular season. Signing JD isn’t the answer though as his contract would put the organizations in a horrible financial position for the next four to six years.

Zack Greinke is heading into his age 34 season after having a great bounce-back year in 2017 with a 3.20 ERA with 215 K’s in 202.1 innings, and Greinke doesn’t have a lot of dominant years left in him due to this age.

How Machado Fits

Machado is coming off his worst year as a pro as he hit .259/.310/.471 but still with 33 homers and 95 RBI’s. Machado isn’t a big strikeout guy as his K-rate has dropped from 19.2% to 16.7% from 2014 to 2017, but it seems like Machado could’ve been a little unlucky last year according to his .265 BABIP because he has averaged a .301 BABIP for his career. This was the topic of a past article on Sunrise Sports if you want to read more into the details on BABIP and his 2017 “struggles”.

Like Pollock and Corbin, Machado is a free agent at the end of the season, and he just signed a 16 million dollar, one year contract to end his arbitration eligibility a few weeks ago.

The Diamondbacks desperately want to re-sign JD Martinez, but Machado is a younger and cheaper option to try to make a short-term run before you have to make some major decisions on the roster in the coming years.

According to the FanGraphs Steamer predictions, Machado is projected to have a better offensive season than Martinez too. Fangraphs projects:

  • Machado 2018: 38 HR’s, 107 RBI’s, .297 AVG, .549 SLG, 16.1 K%
  • Martinez 2018: 33 HR’s, 93 RBI’s, .277 AVG, .545 SLG, 27.4 K%

Defensively, Machado could play shortstop as you could slide Ketel Marte over to second base. Also, you could slide Machado over to third and have him platoon with Lamb when facing left-handed starters. There is something to be said about staying in one position to remain comfortable throughout the season, but I am sure Machado wouldn’t mind playing third base for 20-40 games if he is playing shortstop the rest of the games. Machado has played in 162, 157, and 156 games the past three seasons, so he is rarely going to take an off day which allows him to play well over 100 games at short.

Would it be worth the cost?

The past few seasons the Orioles have desperately needed starting pitchers. Oddly enough, they have traded for former snakes Wade Miley and Jeremy Hellickson the past seasons at the Trade Deadline to try to make playoff pushes. This season their rotation could consist of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Gabriel Ynoa, Mike Wright, and Miguel Castro.

They need more starting pitching depth whether it is prospects that are close or MLB proven guys. While the D-Backs don’t have a good farm system, the D-Backs do have great starting pitching depth with a few prospects that are intriguing.

The Orioles would be targetting pitchers like Jon Duplantier, Taylor Clarke, Anthony Banda, Braden Shipley, and maybe even Patrick Corbin.

Duplantier could be the deciding factor for both sides of the trade. Duplantier broke out in 2017 as he was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB.com. He is the most untouchable prospect in our system as he is the #73 overall prospect in baseball.

With our young, MLB starting pitching depth in Ray, Walker, Godley, and Miller, who are all under 27 years old, I would be willing to part ways with our third and fourth best prospects, Taylor Clarke and Anthony Banda. Check out our article of Taylor Clarke for more information on him.

The farm system wouldn’t be completely deplete without Banda and Clarke, who will be AAA starters at the beginning of 2018, as Braden Shipley (25), Jon Duplantier (23), Matt Tabor (19), Alex Young (24), Jhoan Duran (20), Brian Shaffer (21), and Harrison Francis (19) all would still be in the system.

The Orioles might ask for an outfielder or infielder too in return. Brandon Drury was involved in talks according to reports, and I would expect Socrates Brito, Jake Lamb, Nick Ahmed, and Chris Owings to be options as well.

A Deal That Is Fair

If Baltimore believes that Machado will not re-sign next winter and want to make a move, Clarke, Banda, Ahmed and Socrates Brito/Brandon Drury would seem like a fair package. Two mid-level starting pitching prospects with a proven MLB defensive whiz along with Drury or Brito that both have great potential should entice the Orioles front office.

The Orioles will clearly want Drury who has proven himself at the MLB level and looks more and more ready to breakout every spring, but I don’t think Hazen and Co. will want to get rid of Drury or Duplantier.

Machado could very well put us over the edge to really challenge the Dodgers and the rest of the NL. And maybe, just maybe, Machado falls in love with Phoenix and wants to re-sign. It would be a much easier decision for ownership to increase the payroll to sign a young superstar at the age of 26 in Machado compared to a 30-year-old who is somewhat one dimensional in power with an injury history in Martinez.

 

Photo from Sporting News/Getty Images

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