The MLB's non-waiver trade deadline isn't until July 31, but June 1 marks the unofficial start of trade rumor season. With an impending free-agent class that has been talked about for the better part of a half decade, this year's trade deadline has the chance to be the most interesting we've seen in some time.
Perhaps the prize of this offseason's free-agent class is Baltimore Orioles SS/3B Manny Machado, although Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel all could have something to say about that. Still, of the top-flight free-agents, Machado is the most certain to be playing for a new team in 2019, which makes him the only one of the aforementioned quartet that's expected to be traded this summer.
But while some believe the Phillies are the favorite to land Machado's services this offseason, it still seems unlikely that they'll make a play for him this summer.
The Athletic's Jayson Stark joined Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic Wednesday, and outlined the reasons why general manager Matt Klentak is unlikely to acquire Machado in a trade this summer:
"I would say that their [the Orioles] initial ask would be somewhere along the lines of Sixto Sanchez, J.P. Crawford and like Seranthony Dominguez. Or [another offer could be] Scott Kingery, Edubray Ramos and Sixto Sanchez. And here's the issue with it - if you trade for him you have to know he's a rental. You're not signing him. I can tell you for a fact - he's not opening any windows, he's not signing any extensions in the middle of this season. And so, you're not gaining any advantage - I don't think - in terms of trying to sign him next winter than what you would have anyway. It [his decision] is going to be about all kinds of stuff, but it's mostly going to be about money."
During last December's Winter Meetings - when the Orioles at least gauged the market for Machado - Roch Kubatko of MASN reported that the Orioles "coveted" Sixto Sanchez, who MLB Pipeline says is the Phillies No. 1 prospect. Stark was among those at the time to say that the Phillies were unwilling to part with the 19-year-old righty, who has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.
Even if Machado and the Orioles were willing to give the Phillies a window to sign a contract extension upon completion of a trade, the guess here is the Phillies wouldn't be willing to part with Sanchez. Without that window, it's not even worth bringing Sanchez's name up for a rental, even if that rental is in the midst of the best offensive season of his career.
Moving beyond Sanchez, Kubatko also noted last December that the Orioles were high on Scott Kingery. The former second-round pick's rookie season has been a disappointment thus far, though it's fair to point out that because of the presence of Cesar Hernandez, Kingery's spent the bulk of his time away from his natural position of second base. At 24, there's little reason to think that Kingery won't turn into the All-Star caliber player that many believed he was capable of becoming at the beginning of this season. It just hasn't come as quickly as some may have hoped.
As far as trading Kingery, it makes next to no sense to do for a rental. Even with Hernandez, who turned 28 this week, entrenched at second base currently, the expectation is that Kingery will be the long-term second baseman. Klentak inked him to a six-year/24 million deal before he played a game at the major league level, with affordable club options for 2024, 2025 and 2026. If Kingery pans out, his deal could turn out to be one of the most team-friendly contracts in the history of the sport. The Phillies simply aren't going to move him for a rental.
Here's where I differ from Stark - I do think that having Machado for a few months could help you come free-agency, assuming he enjoys his time in Philadelphia. It certainly helped lure Cliff Lee back in free-agency at the beginning of this decade, even after the Phillies traded him away the offseason prior. Money is going to be the biggest factor for Machado, but if the Phillies and a team like the New York Yankees are neck-and-neck in terms of dollars offered, a sense of familiarity could give the Phillies an edge.
Of course, you don't give up your top pitching prospect or the player many outlets thought was the Phillies top position prospect to build a sense of familiarity. You don't even give up Seranthony Dominguez or J.P. Crawford. If the Orioles wanted to receive a franchise-altering return for their franchise icon, they should have seriously considered moving Machado in 2016, not 2018. With him months away from free-agency, they simply aren't going to get that type of return for Machado, certainly not from the Phillies.