Chicago Cubs: Could team be hurt by Manny Machado rumors?

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

The Manny Machado-Chicago Cubs trade rumors have developed a life of their own that may actually prevent the Cubs from being able to work out a trade.

Imagine for a moment you are a Baltimore Orioles fan. You are bummed at the possibility of losing Manny Machado. Then you hear a rumor the Chicago Cubs might be willing to trade Addison Russell for Machado.

As an Orioles supporter, you might not be all that familiar with Russell. After browsing the Internet a bit, you learn just how good he has been, how experts feel about his potential and his long-term control.

Maybe some particular fact stands out in your mind such as the fact that Russell was the starting shortstop for the National League All-Star team in 2016 or the 95 RBI he drove in that year.

But wait a moment. Your Orioles had already said that they wanted to get Major League-ready starting pitching back for Manny Machado. Something along the lines of what the Atlanta Braves got when they traded away Jayson Heyward before the last season of his rookie contract.

Pitching is a ‘must’ for the Orioles

Despite what happened to Shelby Miller since, he had an All-Star season in 2015. The Braves then traded him the next offseason for Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair.

Then, you hear the rumor that the Cubs might also include Mike Montgomery in a trade for Machado. Outside of Chicago, Mike Montgomery isn’t exactly a household name. In Baltimore you might  remember him for the 4 1/3 innings he pitched in a not-so-good start against the Orioles last season. Or, more likely, the fact he recorded the last out when the Cubs won the World Series.

So once again you do some online research to make yourself familiar with Montgomery. Based on your own research, you decide that you do or don’t like him as a potential member of the Orioles’ starting rotation.

A good deal gets sweeter for Baltimore

Then you hear the rumor of your Orioles getting Russell, Montgomery and some guy named Albert Almora for the O’s three-time All-Star.

Now I know as Cubs fans that each one of these players hold a special place in our hearts. If nothing else Almora will always have a place in Cubs lore for the important base running he did in the deciding inning of the 2016 World Series.

I completely believe that each one of these three names might have come up in trade talks for Machado. The Orioles’ front office may have even proposed that last combination. But I seriously doubt that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be willing to trade all three. Remember, we’re talking about one guaranteed season of Machado at an estimated 17.2 million dollars.

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Now imagine you are either the Orioles’ general manager or owner. Your fanbase has heard all of the rumors mentioned above. Some of your fans may be theorizing that the reason Machado hasn’t been traded yet is because the Orioles are holding out for even more than the best rumored package.

A tough-to-swallow prospect loss?

How would Baltimore fans react if the actual trade ends up being Mike Montgomery, Eddie Butler and Adbert Alzolay for Machado? Maybe a player to be named later is thrown in there somewhere.

I’m not even sure if we would consider that a good trade for the Cubs. Montgomery will still be under team control for four more years. Alzolay could be the first pitcher to stick in the rotation developed from within the Cubs’ system since Epstein took over.

After having heard rumors involving much higher returns from the Cubs than the hypothetical one I propose above, Orioles fans may call for Dan Duquette’s head on a spike. If the O’s aren’t able to acquire Addison Russell, but the Cubs have the best remaining offer, would Baltimore pull the trigger? Will ownership be willing to deal their young star for a lower return than rumored?

Next: How would Cubs survive without Rizzo?

Second-guessing has always been a part of sports fandom. Trades invite their own unique flavor, though. Having a thick skin is a job requirement for running a franchise. However, the Machado-to-Chicago rumors have gotten to the point where it could actually hurt the Cubs.

I hope I’m wrong. But if the Cubs aren’t able to trade for Machado, I would hate to find out these ridiculous rumored proposals played a role in killing a deal.