Cleat Geeks

Dbacks Fading Out Of Machado Sweepstakes?

As the trade deadline creeps closer with each passing day – Just 31st – and with new trade reports revolving around Baltimore Orioles slugger, Manny Machado, popping up seemingly every day, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were not long ago mentioned as one of the more active of the front-runners for the star infielders services, have now seemingly found themselves on the outside looking in.

Morosi, July 4th

As of Tuesday

As of Saturday

Wherever the Diamondbacks currently sit in their pursuit of landing the now 4-time all-star, who was voted in as the American League starting shortstop in this years mid-summer classic, one thing’s for certain and that’s, as expected, a massive bidding war is in progress involving some of this years World Series hopeful’s positioning themselves to acquire the recently turned 26-year-old superstar.


The biggest issue for the Diamondbacks in making a real run at Machado is no surprise for anyone who follows the team, their lack of minor-league depth and elite level prospects. On MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects, they have one Diamondback player listed – SP Jon Duplantier – who’s ranked 60th. They also have the Dodgers with five, Brewers two, and both the Phillies & Yankees with three top 100 prospects.

To take it a little further, Ray Butler, of Prospects-365, released his annual Top 200 Prospects list this week, which has the D’backs & Brewers listed with six such prospects, Dodgers eleven, Phillies eight and Yankees six.

While the Yankees have the same amount of Top 200 prospects as Arizona, New York currently has seventeen guys on their 40-man roster who are 25-years-old or younger, while the D’backs have only eight, which is actually three more than the Dodgers. Milwaukee has thirteen on their roster, only to be outdone by Philadelphia, whose 40-man contains 62.5% (25) of players under the age of 26! It’s really not very hard to see why we’ve seemingly fallen down the totem pole on the pursuit of Manny Machado.

When asked earlier this week if he would play third base if traded to a contender, Machado exclaimed, “I am a shortstop. I play shortstop.”

To be clear, whoever trades for the young superstar isn’t trading for his shortstop abilities, rather for his offensive prowess with the lumber, as he’s top-10 in all of baseball in each of the following hitting categories: Hits, HR, RBI, AVG, SLG & OPS.

Image result for manny machado 2018

What is unclear is if obtained by the D’backs would they let Manny play everyday at shortstop or would they let him play him play there against RHP and then move him over to third against LHP, since starter Jake Lamb struggles mightily with the lefty-on-lefty match-up.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed has a greater fielding percentage, while defensive metrics also show him being the superior shortstop between the two, as supported by his 1.2dWAR, compared to Machado’s -1.4dWAR. The problem for Nick is that while he’s roughly a .280 hitter (good) vs LHP this season, he’s only hitting around .200 vs RHP, to go along with about a 200 point decline in OPS when facing righties this season. Both of which are fairly accurate compared to his career splits. The upgrade would obviously be on the offensive side, as Machado has a 4.4 oWAR so far this season compared to Ahmed’s 0.8, via Baseball Reference.

Something similar could be said with Ketel Marte (2B), who’s hitting under .210 vs RHP this season, to go along with an OPS right about .600 against them. Against lefties, Ketel is hitting around .310, with an OPS of about .950. His career RHP/LHP splits are definitely not as drastic, as he has a better batting average vs RHP, but higher OPS vs LHP throughout his short career. Law of averages say it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ketel starts handling righties better down the stretch run.

Third baseman Jake Lamb is currently hitting under .180 with 0 HR, in 45 at-bats vs LHP on the season. In his career against southpaws, Lamb has a .163 career average, while hitting nearly 300 points less in OPS over 350 career at-bats compared to RHP. Law of averages say it would be a surprise if Jake starts hitting lefties much batter down the stretch run.

In the coming days we will cover a list of names, besides Machado, that could come in and help the team either offensively or in the starting rotation/bullpen, but as the heat is on for front offices across the country in the Machado sweepstakes, one would think that a club interested in the Orioles shortstop would like to get a deal done much sooner than the July 31st deadline. Presumably, immediately after the All-Star break would seem to be ideal for a team that’s willing to give up a couple higher ceiling prospects for a rental, so unless the D’backs pull the proverbial rabbit out of their hat by dealing at least two, possibly three or four, of such prospects – #1 prospect SP Jon Duplantier is still sidelined with bicep tightness, making him much harder to trade – or sending an MLB player, plus a prospect or two, it would seem as if General Manager Mike Hazen and Co. might have to rely on their fallback plan if they choose to stay the course with a possible middle-infield or third base acquisition.

 

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