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Heyman | How the 5 main Manny Machado seekers stack up

Jon Heyman

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Manny Machado, sources said, was told early in the week not to go too far from the phone. That was one of many signs the Baltimore Orioles are deadly serious about their intention to try to trade their infield superstar.

The goal of their baseball ops people seems clear, and their efforts certainly were apparent, but some hurdles remain before the Orioles will trade the best player they have ever traded – leading among them the man who still sits in the owner’s chair.

Peter Angelos, the Orioles owner who hates to trade anyone, much less stars, has given the go-ahead to talk to teams about the great Machado. But that is still a far cry from giving the go-ahead to actually send Machado packing.

Remember, Angelos gave a thumbs up to talking about Zach Britton at the deadline, but the agreed-upon Britton deal fell through, anyway – either because one or more of the Astros players didn’t pass muster with the toughest doctor in baseball, or because Angelos either asked him to flunk those players or had a change of heart.

Orioles baseball people seem to be taking a realistic approach to the 2018 season and are pressing ahead in their efforts to extract a big package for a one-year player, albeit a great one-year player. Word is, they’d like two stud pitching prospects who are close to the big leagues, and as one Orioles person summarized their goal is to get “as much as we can get.”

Of course, it won’t be easy, especially with Machado and his agent suggesting they weren’t about to grant the 72-hour negotiating window to try to work out a big new contract with the acquiring team. (That should come as no surprise, as players don’t like to give up their free-agent rights, especially so close to free agency, and especially for a team he has no familiarity with.)

There is also the matter of the needs of the rumored interested parties. The list of interested teams is odd, to say the least.

The White Sox, Phillies and Giants are three of the five known teams, and all of them were worse than the Orioles last year – and in the case of the Giants, way worse. Yet another team, the Yankees, are seen as a team that Angelos would never want to trade with (he never has).

“No chance,” opined one expert of the Yankees’ chances to land Machado directly from the Orioles.

That leaves as perhaps the most likely landing spot the St. Louis Cardinals, which has already added Marcell Ozuna and has been in talks with teams over at least two other potential third-base solutions – Evan Longoria and Josh Donaldson (though the Donaldson discussions seem to be more a matter of the politeness of the Blue Jays execs, who really have no interest in trading him).

Anyway, while the hurdles would seem tough and plentiful, the chances for a trade are real. So here’s a rundown of the teams that seem to have been in play:

1.  Cardinals: Yes, they make the most sense, as we wrote here. And yes, they have been uber-aggressive this winter. And for good measure they seem to think they have room for a third baseman (thus the talks with the Rays about Longoria and the Jays about Donaldson). They also happen to have a plethora of fine young starters, even after trading righty Sandy Alcantara to the Marlins, from Alex Reyes (probably untouchable) to Luke Weaver to Jack Flaherty to many more. They probably possess as much as depth as anyone in their system. And they look highly motivated, as evidenced by the Marcell Ozuna trade and all the other talks.

2. White Sox: Some have said the White Sox have been the most aggressive team, but others have said not. It would seem odd if they were. While their rebuild is going fine, there’s little chance they are a contender in 2018.  So what sense would a one-year player make? Very little from here. There’s been a theory going around that the White Sox could take Machado and then flip him, but this would seem to be a giant waste of time, not to mention a potential embarrassment should they get less for Machado than the Orioles were able to extract from them. They could hold him for a half-year and see whether that works better. Those man hours might be better spent adding players who could actually help them in the future (rather than subtracting, then adding). They do have the types of young pitchers the Orioles would want, including Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

3. Phillies: The Phillies people were once Orioles people who drafted and nurtured Machado in the minors, so you know they love him. But as with the White Sox, it makes little sense since they aren’t expected to contend in 2018. The only way it works now is if Machado, knowing they have stacks of cash to burn, and recalling his draft and start, likes the Phillies bosses so much (and expects a monster offer from a team with nothing but money) that he makes an exception for them (unlikely).

4. Giants: The Giants, despite fielding a team that wasn’t all that different from their last championship team, were worse than any of these other teams last year. And while they are sure to improve, we saw how Giancarlo Stanton evaluated them (though his feelings may have been tinged by the fact he grew up a diehard Dodgers fan in the Los Angeles Valley).

5: Yankees: This would seem to be a total waste of time, well beyond the others. There’s almost no way Angelos would approve a trade of the best all-around player of his tenure to the Yankees. They do have very good prospects, not that it matters.

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Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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