MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

POST MLB ALL-STAR GAME TRADES STARTING TO COME TRUE MACHADO TO DODGERS

Trade buzz surrounding Orioles infielder Manny Machado is at an all-time high right now, and according to multiple reports he’s likely to be dealt before play resumes coming out of the All-Star break. Indeed, Baltimore may already have a deal in place with the Dodgers:

Can report with more certainty: Machado to #Dodgers happening. Among remaining questions, in addition to specifics of return beyond OF Yusniel Diaz: How much money, if any, #Orioles will send #Dodgers to secure a better package and help ease LAD’s luxury-tax concerns.

It’s also worth noting that CBS Sports HQ baseball insider Jim Bowden reported that Machado is not expected to be a member of the O’s once their season resumes after the All-Star break and that he’ll be dealt to a National League team.

Bear in mind that the Orioles have a somewhat complicated recent history when it comes to signing off on players’ medicals, so some hurdles may remain. As for those tax concerns that Rosenthal notes, the Dodgers conducted their entire offseason with the goal of resetting their competitive balance tax status and thus not paying those penalties. Given that Machado is owed the balance of a $16 million salary for 2018 and given that the Dodgers are right up against the tax threshold, they’ll need some cash from Baltimore or to send a pricey contract the other way. That, in turn, means the Orioles can ask for more on the prospect front.

Machado makes sense given that the Dodgers lost franchise shortstop Corey Seager to Tommy John surgery, and that in tandem with the lack of production at second base has left them thin in the infield. Adding Machado and installing him at short would allow the Dodgers to shift Chris Taylor from short to second base and thus plug that hole.

As for Machado’s merits, he’s in the midst of a career year. At the break, he’s batting .315/.387/.575 (164 OPS+) with 24 home runs in 96 games. He’s also returned to his original position of shortstop this season. While returns are mixed on his fielding at that premium spot, he has proved capable of manning it on a daily basis (notable given his past knee injuries). Machado is also a pending free agent, and by all accounts he’s determined to test the market. Given that the Dodgers have Seager and Justin Turner installed at short and third, respectively, they can sensibly take Machado on as a temporary fix.

Rosenthal spoke to Machado about the rumors during Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park. Here’s what he said on what may be his last day as an Oriole:

“I just try not to think about it, to be honest. I try to enjoy this moment with the American League guys and just enjoy this with these guys that I’ve played with for a long time.

“It’s been a tremendous honor to wear this uniform. They gave me an opportunity to come up and play in the big leagues — that’s everyone’s dream. They gave me that. They gave me the opportunity to play shortstop again. The organization has done everything, so if this is the last time, hopefully I treated them well and did everything I could for this organization.

“I’m just trying to enjoy this off day tomorrow. I mean, I don’t know if I’m going to get a call or not, but I’m just trying to enjoy this last off day. As of now, I haven’t heard of anything.”
The SportsLine Projection Model was already high on the Dodgers for the rest of the season and has them as the leader in World Series probability in the National League. The forecast gives the Dodgers a bit of a boost, going from 94.1 wins without Machado to 94.6 with the addition of the Orioles infielder. Postseason odds go from 94.7 to 96.5 percent. As far as winning the World Series? Machado would raise the Dodgers’ chances from 23.7 to 24 percent.

No, that’s not a huge difference, which reflects two facts: we’re well past the midpoint of the season, and SportsLine was already quite bullish on the Dodgers moving forward. By Dayn Perry CBS Sports

Michael Duarte of NBC Sports L.A. tweets that right-handed pitching prospect Dustin May, long reported to be a target of the O’s, is expected to change hands in the deal. Double-A infielder/outfielder Errol Robinson is also believed to be included, per Duarte.

Heyman tweets that the players in the deal are agreed upon, though there could yet be some medical reviews to be finalized. Notably, he suggests that there are “believed to be” five minor leaguers going to the Orioles, though obviously the quality of those five will vary. It’s still unclear who, outside of Diaz, is going to the Orioles in the deal, but Heyman adds that there’s no cash changing hands in the trade. That won’t yet put Los Angeles over the luxury tax line, however. Machado is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, and the Dodgers were about $15MM south of the luxury tax line prior to this agreement.

Rosenthal tweets that Machado to the Dodgers is indeed happening. Diaz will go back to the Orioles as one of the pieces in the deal. It’s not yet clear which other players are involved or how much money (if any) the O’s are sending to the Dodgers along with Machado. By 

If and when the reported trade sending Manny Machado to the Dodgers is formally announced by the teams, the O’s could be quick to turn around and move longtime closer Zach Britton in a separate deal, reports MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli (via Twitter). Interest in Britton has “picked up steam” recently, according to Ghiroli.

Britton missed about half of the 2017 season due to a pair of forearm injuries and was out until June 2018 due to a ruptured Achilles tendon that required offseason surgery. And while his first few appearances since coming off the disabled list raised questions about his trade value, he’s looked more impressive lately.

Britton’s past seven appearances have been scoreless, but beyond the bottom-line results, he’s made some encouraging gains in terms of sinker velocity. His ground-ball rate has been a superlative 68.8 percent in that time as well — a noted increase from his earlier outings in which his sinker wasn’t at its most effective levels. That’s not quite to up to Britton’s (quite literally) historic standards, but it remains elite all the same.

Control has still been somewhat of an issue, as he’s surrendered three walks in those seven innings and thrown a first-pitch strike to just 40 percent of the hitters he’s faced along the way. But there’s no denying that Britton has begun to round into form at a most opportune time for an Orioles organization that, at the very least, looks to be a lock to trade the left-hander and fellow impending free agents Machado and Brad Brach.

Britton is earning $12MM in 2018, which will present a roadblock for a number of clubs interested in acquiring his services. As could be the case with the eventual Machado deal, the Orioles might have to include some cash to facilitate the deal and to improve the return they receive for their prized lefty. Britton is still owed about $4.8MM of that $12MM sum through season’s end.

To this point, the AstrosCubsYankeesPhillies and Red Sox have all been connected to Britton in fairly prominent fashion. Surely, as is the case every summer, though, the top relievers on the market will draw at least some level of inquiry from the majority of contenders. Unlike the Machado saga, in which some contending clubs had little need for another infielder on the left side of the diamond, there’s no contending team in baseball that won’t have some interest in bolstering its relief corps. Certainly, some teams will consider it to be a more pressing need than others, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if as much as a third of the league is tied to Britton before he inevitably finds himself with a new team for the first time in his career.

The Indians are among the clubs with interest in Padres closer Brad Handtweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Yankees and Cubs are among the other teams that have been previously linked to Hand in recent days.

Cleveland’s interest in Hand comes as little surprise. The 28-year-old left-hander has established himself as one of the game’s premier relievers over the past couple of seasons, and he’s signed to an affordable deal that guarantees him $6.5MM in 2019, $7MM in 2020 and has a $10MM club option for the 2021 season. The Indians, meanwhile, have surprisingly had one of the game’s absolute worst bullpens in 2018 and typically operate on a fairly tight budget, making Hand’s contract all the more appealing.

Of course, that contract and Hand’s excellence dating back to 2016 — 2.66 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 46.5 percent ground-ball rate in 213 innings — mean he’ll come with an especially steep price tag. The Indians have shown in the past that they’re willing to dip into their farm for significant upgrades at the deadline under the current front office structure, and a deal to bring Hand to Cleveland would bear similarity to the team’s 2016 acquisition of Andrew Miller from the Yankees (certainly in terms of significance and quite possibly in terms of price point). Cleveland sent vaunted prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield to the Yankees as part of that exchange.

It’s fair to expect that if the Indians have inquired about Hand, they’ve also spoken to the Padres about righties Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen — each former members of the Indians organization themselves. San Diego figures to be actively listening on all three, after all, and at least in terms of bullpen targets, the Indians have been most prominently connected to relievers they can control beyond 2018 so far. Cleveland is reportedly interested in Baltimore righty Mychal Givens, and the Indians have also been tied to Marlins relievers such as Kyle BarracloughDrew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.

That said, given the fact that Cleveland relievers have been clobbered for a 5.28 ERA that ranks 29th in the Majors this season, the Indians will surely be exploring myriad options as they look to fortify the bullpen with an eye toward October baseball. By  

 

 

 

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