WASHINGTON — The Baltimore Orioles were a bad team even with Manny Machado, but by the time the Red Sox head to Baltimore next week for their three-game series at Camden Yards, the Orioles will be that much weaker. Machado will be wearing Dodger Blue, 3,000 miles away from the Red Sox.
The much anticipated Machado-to-the-Dodgers deal should act as the first major domino to fall in the trade season, which should open things up for other deals in the next few days.
Machado is a great player so it’s sad in a way that the Red Sox won’t be playing against him as an Oriole. Machado said he loved Baltimore and wanted to stay there if all things were equal. But Orioles ownership did not make him an extension offer in recent times to keep him the face of the franchise. And so he goes to a place that seems suited for him.
He likes the attention of a big market. He actually thought the Yankees might step up and while they were serious, they stuck to their guns on not giving up a top prospect for a potential rental. Machado in New York would have offered great drama, another something to look forward to in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. While Brian Cashman could have pulled this off if he had offered lefty Justus Sheffield or third baseman Miguel Andujar, he decided it was more important to save those players for a deal involving a front-line pitcher. Now the Yankees can offer one or both to the Mets for Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard. Given the already strong Yankee lineup, it makes more sense to approach the trade deadline without Machado, though it’s amazing they could have done both if they wanted to.
Machado wanted to stay at shortstop and he’ll get that opportunity the rest of the season in LA, where Corey Seager (right elbow) is out the remainder of the season. Machado said he hoped wherever he was traded he’d be able to assess whether he wanted to sign there long term.
He even uttered the timeless phrase of “Money doesn’t buy you happiness.” He added, “I want to be somewhere where my family will be happy.”
This came out of the mouth of a 26-year-old superstar who knows he’s going to make a lot of money, one way or another.
The Dodgers certainly have the resources to make Machado happy. But will Machado stay at shortstop or will he be asked to move to third base? The Dodgers may have to convince Seager to move to third, a move that some of their front office personnel feel would be beneficial for Seager. If that happens, Machado likely would enjoy spending the remainder of his career in the kind of environment the Dodgers provide, which is often considered the best in baseball when you consider the climate and the history of that iconic franchise.
The Red Sox inquired about Machado in the offseason and again in this go-round of talks, but it was clear the Orioles wanted Rafael Devers in return and that it was going to be difficult to find a combination of players that would have satisfied the Orioles because the Red Sox farm system is unimpressive right now.
But what if Machado becomes a free agent? The Red Sox may want to compete for him then. So much depends on where the Red Sox end up for the season. If it’s another quick exit from the playoffs, they might want to shake things up with a big deal.
With Machado off the trade market, there are teams still in need of power-hitting infielders, so you’ll likely hear the pursuit of Adrian Beltre, Mike Moustakas, Brandon Drury, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson (if he ever gets back on the field) and others start to pick up by teams such as the Brewers, Braves, Cardinals, Indians (with Jose Ramirez able to move to second base). Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett is also going to be in demand.
With Machado gone it also could open up the pitching market, where the Yankees could strike quickly for deGrom or Michael Fulmer or even veterans J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels. The Red Sox are trying to tap into the starting pitcher and relief markets. The Astros need a reliever. The Mariners could use another starter and the Oakland A’s, trying to catch the Mariners for that second wild card, also may be trying to obtain a starter.
The Red Sox are hamstrung by their thin prospect talent, but there’s still some hope they can piece together enough to at least get a reliever. The competition for Zach Britton has really picked up as Britton starts to get closer to being the dominant closer he was. There was some thought the Dodgers would try to get both Machado and Britton in the same deal, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Astros have enough to get Britton and except for some bad blood that developed last season when the Astros were rebuffed by the Orioles in their attempt for Britton, if that’s blown over it could happen again.
San Diego’s Brad Hand remains another desirable reliever for the Astros or the Yankees. The Padres have pretty much eliminated the Red Sox because of their lack of prospects. Texas lefty Jake Diekman also could be a target for Boston. Diekman has major playoff experience.
There was always a little tension between Machado and the Red Sox over the Dustin Pedroia spiking incident at second base, but he was always fun to watch and the centerpiece of any Red Sox-Orioles game. Playing the Orioles over the next couple of years is going to be a mismatch with Machado and others from that team gone soon. But it should be another easy “W” for the Red Sox.