Cleat Geeks

Who Will Win The Machado Sweepstakes?

I am planning on doing a few of these pieces between now and the July 31st trade deadline. For the first article I am going to conquer perhaps the biggest name, but also the easiest at the same time. Let me explain why Manny Machado is both.

What Manny Brings

As of the research for this writing Machado is batting .309 with a .379 on base percentage and a .558 slugging percentage. These three numbers are each better than in any full season of his career. Plus, the most home runs he has ever hit in a single season is 37. He is currently more than halfway to that mark this season with 21 to go along with his 107 hits 60 RBI’s and 7 stolen bases. But all these statistics lead to a very interesting question. With all of these numbers being a first for Manny, and the way teams are now evaluating players, accompanied with the way the free agent market took a downward turn for the players this past off-season. Are they numbers that are going to warrant a 5-7 year $150-200 million dollar commitment from any team? Whoever trades for him is giving up a part of their future to acquire him. If it is a deal like the Diamondbacks made for J.D. Martinez last season, where a team only has to give up two marginal prospects, that is a different story. But, Baltimore seems to want more than that.

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He needs to do well on offense, because his defense is actually declining despite his reputation. I am going to get somewhat technical here on stats, so if you are not a stat person, just jump to final sentence of this paragraph. According to the highlight reel we are accustom to seeing from Machado would be short this season. His Rtot (total zone total fielding runs above average) or the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of defensive chances the player has is at -13. His Rdrs (defensive runs saved above average) or how many runs he has saved compared to the average shortstop is -19. Plus, his Rdrs/yr (defensive runs saved on average per 1,200 innings) is at a whopping -30. All of these are career lows, and they are severe career lows. He does own a .978 fielding percentage, which sounds good until you look up the fact that the average shortstop this season has a .972 fielding percentage and you realize he is .006 percentage points better than the average shortstop.

Who Are The Players?

Manny is a major piece, and will take another teams major prospect to land, possibly a few fringe prospects as well. Plus if the team who trades for him wants to keep him beyond this season it will take, as mentioned above, a major contract to keep him. Therefore, you have eliminated over half of the teams in MLB right off the bat. Each league only has 5 teams who are going to make the play-offs. In the American league we basically already know who those teams are going to be; Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland and Seattle. The Angels and Tampa are trying to hang around, and the sudden surge of the Oakland Athletics winning 17 of their last 21 games and finding themselves 11 games over .500 is nice, but in reality they are still the third best team in that division and 6 games out of the final Wild Card spot. What do those 5 top teams have in common? They all have established shortstops. Would Manny move back to third base? He might, but those teams already have third baseman as well with the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox all having young third baseman who are proving themselves worthy. This is the reason Machado is both the biggest and the easiest, only a few teams from one league really make sense.

The national League is a different story because the play-off teams are not so defined. The teams with legitament play-off shots are; the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Nationals. Phillies and possibly the Cardinals. Of these teams you can eliminate the Braves, Nationals, and Cardinals. I also think you can eliminate the Cubs with their current combination of Russell, Biaz and Zobrist. So now you are down to 4 NL teams.

The Final Four

I think the Phillies are the longest shot here. They have Crawford and Kingery. But since they have money to spend, they would be smarter going after him this off-season and not give up any young prospects for him.

I keep reading and hearing the Dodgers are this race. I don’t think they are. They don’t want to go over the Luxury tax again, and he would truly be a rental for them. They have Turner at 3rd base and Segar at shortstop. I know he is hurt, but he will be back next season. I don’t see them parting ways with a top prospect for a few month rental that buts them over the Luxury tax.

The Brewers are an interesting case. They have Jonathan Villar and they got Tyler Saladino from the White Sox. Neither of them are All-Stars but together they are serviceable. Plus, they have Orlando Arcia on the Triple A MLB bus this season. This season he is only hitting .197 but he has a .247 career batting average and he is only 23 years old. I think it depends on where they see his growth and potential as to if they will simply check in on Manny or go all in on Manny.

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Photo by; ABC7 Chicago

I think the winner of the Machado sweepstakes will be the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their starting shortstop, while living up to his nickname of “slick nick” is great defensivly, he is batting .226. They could also slide Manny over to third base against a lefty giving Lamb a rest and have Nick start at shortstop. They have a decent pitching staff at the major league level with Buchholtz for this year, Walker for next year and Shipley for the future. Therefore they will trade Matt Koch and 1B Kevin Cron, whose power screams DH, to the Orioles in exchange for Manny Machado.



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