Four-time All-Star shortstop Manny Machado reportedly will be traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers "barring a last minute snag," according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed the report during the All-Star Game.
Machado confirmed he has seen the reports and thinks they are valid, but isn't certain, per Heyman. "It’ll be different. But different can be good."
Machado is enjoying the best year of his career. Through 96 games, he has a .575 slugging percentage, 24 home runs and 65 RBI.
Most Orioles fans likely resigned themselves to losing him. An MLB agent told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci in April 2017 that both Machado and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals could command contracts in excess of $400 million on the open market.
Chris Davis earned the biggest deal in Orioles history when he signed for seven years and $161 million in 2016. Even if Machado doesn't hit the $400 million mark, his next contract could more than double Baltimore's richest pact.
He is also set to hit free agency at what appears to be a transitional phase for the team. Adam Jones, Zach Britton and Brad Brach are all impending free agents, and the general feeling is Baltimore is headed for a painful rebuild, as evidenced by its 28-69 record.
Beyond the massive investment in Machado, ownership would have needed to commit more money to turn the team into a serious playoff contender in the top-heavy American League East.
Baltimore kicked the can down the road for a while and tried to keep its window for contention open longer than was feasible. Consequently, the Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball.
Ultimately, the franchise had little choice but to trade Machado before it lost him and received only a draft pick as compensation.
Machado turned 26 on July 6, so he's in the prime of his career and doesn't have a ton of red flags regarding his health, either. He suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2013 and 2014 but hasn't shown lingering effects. In the first three seasons after his second surgery, Machado missed 11 combined games and batted .280 with a .502 slugging percentage.
Additionally, Machado's underwhelming 2017 season (.259 AVG, .471 SLG) appears to be a blip.
The Dodgers were one of the most logical destinations for him. Even after various trades and MLB promotions, Los Angeles still has a solid minor league system from which it could put together a worthwhile package.
More importantly, the Dodgers had an immediate need on the left side of their infield after Corey Seager underwent Tommy John surgery in May.
By adding Machado, Los Angeles can move Chris Taylor or Logan Forsythe to second base and get the retiring Chase Utley out of the starting lineup. Going from Utley to Machado will provide a much-needed injection of power to an offense that has struggled to recover from injuries to both Seager and Justin Turner this season.