Chicago Cubs, Manny Machado deal hard to put together logistically
By Jake Misener
Rumors connecting the Chicago Cubs to infielder Manny Machado continue to swirl. That being said, it’s hard to put together an deal that makes sense.
The thought of Manny Machado slotted into the Chicago Cubs lineup is a mouthwatering one, to be sure. Hitting ahead of the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, Machado would make the Cubs’ lineup one of the deepest in all of baseball heading into 2018.
I don’t know if I can remember a more divisive trade target in recent years. It probably has to do more with the lack of a uniform opinion on Addison Russell than anything else, though. Some believe he could be one of the best middle infielders in the league. Others, myself included, have begun to question if he’ll ever be what we once thought he’d become.
Either way, based on reports, it doesn’t much matter. Owner Peter Angelos seems unlikely to stop meddling in the affairs of his team, handicapping executive president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Furthermore, Duquette and the Orioles reportedly seek one to two pitchers with four to five years of control apiece in any Machado deal.
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That’s a steep – but not unreasonable – ask from Baltimore. But here’s the problem. The Cubs lack two trade chip-style arms with that much control. At least proven ones.
Sure, Jen-ho Tseng might fit the bill for what the Orioles are looking for. But he’s got the control part and he’s won Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year on two separate occasions. So that’s a start. Mike Montgomery, in theory, could be the other piece. He wants a chance to start on a big-league team and the O’s could certainly accommodate that request.
But are we serious in thinking a combination of Tseng and Montgomery is really enough to land one of the game’s young stars – if only for one year? It seems low – and I’m sure that’s what Baltimore would tell the Cubs.
Another Cubs infielder being shopped?
According to Bruce Levine, both the Cubs and White Sox remained engaged in talks for Machado. To what degree is unknown, but the fact the North Siders are still connected to the former first-rounder is somewhat surprising.
The only way it works, in my mind, is due to Baltimore’s interest in a couple of Chicago middle infielders: Addison Russell (which we already broke down in the past here) and Javier Baez. The Cubs – and pretty much all fans – are higher on Baez than Russell. It’s not hard to see why, either.
Baez still struggles with plate discipline at times. He certainly can be one of the most free-swinging players in the game, which is frustrating to say the least. But he’s also more than capable of locking in and riding multi-week hot streaks, both at the plate and in the field.
In 2017, Baez took over the starting duties at shortstop with Russell sidelined. When both are on the field, he forms one half of the Cubs’ double play combo. By season’s end, he set new personal bests in home runs, RBI, OPS and OPS+. His 2.4 oWAR also marked a new career-high for the Puerto Rican sensation.
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Moving ‘El Mago’ seems like a pretty far stretch for one year of Manny Machado – but it might be what it takes to get a deal done. That works on the Baltimore side of things, I’m sure. But it’s hard to envision Chicago unloading a talent like Baez in any deal. Very hard.