With each passing day, a trade for Baltimore Orioles superstar Manny Machado looks less and less likely for the Philadelphia Phillies. Never mind that it's unclear if general manager Matt Klentak and the club will be buyers are the trade deadline, but even if they are, it appears unlikely that the two sides would be able to agree on compensation for Machado.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, while the Phillies would like to acquire Machado, they aren't seen as overly likely to do so this summer:
Sources told MLB.com that while the Phillies have genuine interest in Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, they are not the favorites to acquire him. The Phillies are unlikely to mortgage the future for a two-month rental.
This follows up a report from Jon Heyman of FRS Sports that noted that while the Phillies have inquired on Machado, they currently view the Orioles asking price as "too steep."
Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that Phillies managing partner John Middleton is expected to meet any free-agent asking price for the three-time All-Star. That doesn't mean that Klentak will feel inclined to meet any asking price that the Orioles have in a trade this summer, however, especially if the Phillies increasingly look like a team that it would make sense for to just stand pat at the trade deadline.
Think of it this way: even if the Phillies don't give up one of their elite prospects (Sixto Sanchez isn't going anywhere, so think more Adonis Medina or Adam Haseley), they would lose prospect ammunition in a Machado trade. Heyman suggested in late May that shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, who MLB Pipeline says is the Phillies No. 8 overall prospect, and pitcher Enyel De Los Santos, who the club acquired for Freddy Galvis this offseason, could headline a package. Sure, the Phillies wouldn't deplete their farm system in such a trade, but they would set themselves back multiple prospects. The Phillies may have a slew of young infielders, but none has locked themselves into being the long-term shortstop yet. De Los Santos could be a starter or a reliever. If the Phillies traded those two for Machado, they would be unavailable to either play for the Phillies in the coming years or be used as pieces in a trade for a player with more team control.
If upon completion of a trade Machado was willing to sign a long-term extension, that would be another thing. In that case, just about everyone in the organization (excluding the currently injured Sanchez, in all likelihood) would be on the table. But there's been no indication that months away from the most anticipated free-agent class in baseball history that Machado would be willing to forego free-agency. Sure, Machado could enjoy his brief time in Philadelphia so much that it gives the Phillies an overwhelming advantage in free-agency; especially if they are one of the most aggressive bidders for his services. Then again, Machado could enjoy his time in Philadelphia but still ultimately choose to go elsewhere in free-agency, even if the Phillies have one of the highest bids for him. In that case, not only would the Phillies be out Machado, but whatever they traded to acquire him for just a few months of his services.
If the Phillies don't trade for Machado this summer, it's pretty likely another contender will. The St. Louis Cardinals could. The Atlanta Braves could. The Chicago Cubs could. The Arizona Diamondbacks could. Sure, Machado could enjoy his time in one of those places so much that it pushes him away from Philadelphia this offseason. Then again, it's difficult to see that happening if Middleton, as Lauber's report suggested, is willing to outbid every other team this offseason. If they lost on Machado, it would certainly be a disappointment, but Bryce Harper and Patrick Corbin are two other potential free-agents in what is expected to be the strongest free-agent class since 1992, when Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux where free-agents. The Phillies also wouldn't have touched their farm system, making a major trade a possibility as well.