When the Baltimore Orioles lifted shortstop Manny Machado after just five innings in the club's 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday — given potential hazardous conditions on the wet field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards — there was growing speculation that a deal could be imminent involving the four-time All-Star.
In conversation with executives and scouts in attendance at Sunday's Futures Game at Nationals Park, The Athletic's Jayson Stark said Monday morning on 97.5 The Fanatic that he "came away with the clear belief" that Machado will not play another game for the Orioles. In addition, Stark said a "belief" exists in the industry that the Philadelphia Phillies are the "favorite" to acquire Machado.
"There's even some sense that the Orioles are essentially in agreement on a deal with somebody, but we don't know any of that with positivity. ... I'm just telling you kind of the way the wind seems to be blowing," Stark said. "We kind of expected for awhile that the Orioles would like to delay this until after the All-Star Game. He is their only All-Star. The game's in Washington ... it's 40 miles up the road."
Machado, 26, is slashing .315/.387/.575 this season with 24 home runs and 65 RBI. To put in perspective, Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera currently leads the club with a 2018 projected home run total of 27, while Rhys Hoskins is projected to slug for 95 RBI.
While the Phillies have been long rumored in connection to Machado, given members of their front office drafted the Hialeah, Florida, native third overall in the 2010 amateur draft, the club was not mentioned as the exclusive "favorite" over other teams until Stark's Monday report.
"The Phillies downplayed this for a long time, but they never hung up the phone," Stark said. "They always stayed involved because I think they knew the Orioles liked their players, they liked their system, and that there could be a time — once they sifted through what they had the chance to get from other teams — that this could come back to them."
"It looks like that could easily be the way this works out."