Many expected the Giancarlo Stanton trade to open the floodgates ahead of the winter meetings, and although it's yet to result in a big trade or signing, one team in particular - the Baltimore Orioles - are feeling the ripple effect.
With the New York Yankees acquiring a player of Stanton's caliber, the Orioles appear willing to rebuild, perhaps realizing the competitive window might be almost completely closed. That rebuild starts with Manny Machado, one of the best young players in baseball. Machado, groomed as a third baseman, apparently intends on playing shortstop in 2018, one year ahead of hitting a free-agent market which could see him command more than $300 million.
The Orioles have begun to generate interest in their star, and reportedly have their sights set on young pitchers under team control. With that in mind, here are five teams that should give executive vice president Dan Duquette a call in an effort to orchestrate a deal:
New York Mets
The 2017 season was a lost cause for the Mets after injuries decimated a talented starting rotation. In a thin NL East featuring the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins, and Atlanta Braves, the Mets have a chance to compete with the Washington Nationals for the division, and that starts with Machado.
Both sides have spoken about Matt Harvey, which gives the Mets an early advantage. If itâ€™s pitching the Orioles want in return, the Mets could offer any of Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, or Steven Matz for Machado. If not, New York has a few intriguing arms in the minors such as Marcos Molina and 2016 first-round pick Justin Dunn. In coming over to New York, Machado would get his wish and start at shortstop, with Amed Rosario shifting over to second base.
The Diamondbacks might lose J.D. Martinez in free agency, but that doesnâ€™t mean the club will be left out in the dark. Machado and Paul Goldschmidt would give the D-Backs one of the best 1-2 punches in all of baseball.
The Diamondbacks have five reliable starters (Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley, and Patrick Corbin) under control beyond next season. Teams are already calling on Corbin and Greinke, but for the Orioles, it's unlikely the club would target Greinke and the remaining $138 million on his contract. Of the five starters, Walker (25) and Ray (26) are the youngest, and both are coming off productive seasons. In the minors, top pitching prospect Jon Duplantier is also an intriguing possibility for Baltimore.
St. Louis Cardinals
In terms of making an offseason splash, few teams are set up better than St. Louis when it comes to talented starters with years of control. With that in mind, there doesnâ€™t appear to be a better fit for Machado.
Young pitchers Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, and Sandy Alcantara should be on Baltimore's radar. Top prospect Alex Reyes is another option, but with Machado all but guaranteed to test the market after the 2018 season, the Cardinals may be reluctant to part with their young flamethrower. Michael Wacha, who comes with more experience, is maybe the most realistic target. He was reportedly made available in trade talks for Stanton.
Despite solid offensive production from Domingo Santana (.278/.371/.505) and newcomers Travis Shaw (.273/.349/.513) and Eric Thames (.247/.359/.518), the Brewers were a below-average offensive team for most of 2017.
A big move from general manager David Stearns is mandatory if the team hopes to compete with their divisional counterparts. Young starters Brandon Woodruff and Luis Ortiz could entice the Orioles. If the Brewers want to get bold, they could offer Lewis Brinson, as well. However, any deal for Machado would have to be paired with the addition of a free-agent starter such as Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish if the Brewers hope to truly compete.
It's all about value. It shouldn't matter where Machado ends up as long as the return is worth it. That's why New York should be in play. Orioles owner Peter Angelos reportedly doesn't want his star player being shipped to the Yankees, but baseball is a business, and as hard as it would be for the Orioles to face Machado donning pinstripes in 2018 and possibly beyond, the Yankees are a fit.
The club landed Stanton from Miami for a piece of Dubble Bubble and a bag of Spitz sunflower seeds and on Tuesday, traded Chase Headley and his $13-million salary to San Diego. Not only does New York have prospect capital, the club could deal an arm such as Chad Green or outfielder Clint Frazier to Baltimore. With Didi Gregorius at shortstop, that could mean Machado playing third base more than he'd like. But that shouldn't be too much of a sacrifice when you're hitting between Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Stanton.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.