Thoughts on “Machado Mania”

Alright everyone, you can go back to focusing on work or studying for finals, because the rumors have calmed down significantly. In case you haven’t been on Twitter in the past 48 hours (good for you for having the will power), you already know that the Baltimore Orioles were aggressively shopping 3B Manny Machado, who is set to become a free agent after 2018. At one point, although the Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals, among others, had made strong offers for Machado, it was reported that the White Sox had made the strongest of the offers. It got so crazy and a trade seemed so imminent that at 2 AM Wednesday night (Thursday morning), all of us at SoxOn35th were prepping for an emergency podcast (Wait, I mean, I was studying for finals, Mom…).

Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case. The Orioles have pulled back on their desire to trade Machado. Personally, I’m glad this emotional rollercoaster we fans have been on for awhile can slow down little bit, especially because Rick Hahn said these Winter Meeting would be quieter (oh well).

But, through all the reports and rumors, some interesting trade proposals and fan reactions came forth through Twitter. No matter how many characters Twitter gives me, I will never have enough to speak my mind; so, since things have slowed, I had the time to gather my thoughts concerning the Manny Machado trade rumors and also the general reaction to them by White Sox/Baseball Twitter.

The only team preventing Machado from being traded is the Orioles.

There is clearly a ton of interest in Machado at this point. If the Orioles really wanted to get rid of him right away, they already would have. The Orioles were being stubborn on two things that really made any deal difficult:

1) They wanted to ensure he wasn’t going to the Yankees – understandable. They even got paranoid enough that, according to Bob Nightengale, they wanted written assurance that Machado wouldn’t be flipped to the Yankees by his new team until at least mid-season. Paranoid, sure, but also understandable.

2) They refused to allow any team a 72-hour window to negotiate a contract extension with Machado in order to avoid him becoming a rental player. This made no sense for the Orioles to do – it only lowered the quality of the offers they received.

It appears that, despite what the Orioles may have originally thought, they are not quite ready to trade their star 3B. However, all these rumors have likely unsettled Machado, making it that much less likely that he will want to stay in Baltimore after 2018. Truthfully, if no trade goes down and the Orioles lose Machado after next season, they will come to regret these Winter Meetings.

AT NO POINT did these rumors ever mean that the White Sox were trying to compete in 2018.

I clearly have placed a lot of emphasis on this point, and for good reason. Too many fans were quick to label this a departure from rebuilding right back into the retooling ways of old. All this move proved to me is something I, and many fans, have been saying for a long time now: Manny Machado is part of the White Sox future plans.

Here’s what the definition of a classic “retooling” player has been for the Sox:

1) DH/1B, 30+ years old (Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Manny Ramirez, etc.)

2) Former All-Star, 30+ years old (Kevin Youkilis, Jimmy Rollins, Ken Griffey, Jr.)

3) Player who had early career potential that didn’t pan out as well as they had hoped (Brett Lawrie, Austin Jackson, etc.)

Which of these categories does the 26-year old, 2017 3B Gold Glove winner Manny Machado fall into? None of them. At 26-years old, Manny Machado is in his prime. He is viewed as a long-term investment by the White Sox who, for 48 hours, became available a year earlier than expected. Rick Hahn most likely heard the Orioles were shopping Machado and did his due diligence by checking in on him and putting in an offer. Granted, things might’ve gotten much farther than he expected at this time, but at the very least, this showed Machado that the White Sox were beyond serious about acquiring his talent next offseason.

It would be crazy for anyone to think that Machado would be viewed as a 2018 only player. We should all understand that the White Sox are not going to go to the playoffs in 2018, with or without Machado. This had nothing to do with winning in 2018. It had EVERYTHING to do with ensuring success in 2019 and beyond. These facts should excite you about the Sox’ clear willingness to think big and spend big next year.

If Machado is traded, and it isn’t to the White Sox, it becomes noticeably more difficult to sign him in 2018, even if he doesn’t sign an extension with his new team.

I want to point you first to this tweet from Owen Schoenfield:

Here, Owen put into words something I had been struggling to for awhile. Experience is POWERFUL. This is why I mentioned how these rumors affect Machado’s relationship with Baltimore. If you want more proof, go look at Chuck Garfien’s post with Michael Kopech and his reaction to the rumors. Players are greatly affected by these rumors.

Now, to the point of this section: the best way for the White Sox to prove to Machado that he wants to play in Chicago is to actually get him to play in Chicago for a year before he is a free agent. He would love Ricky, Moncada, Abreu (assuming he is here), and the rest of the guys. Ricky has created a ballclub with a winning attitude, whether or not it has translated into victories on the field yet. And you can guarantee better attendance when a player of Machado’s talent is put on the field. The South Side has a baseball culture that Machado would absolutely love.

Baseball is filled with nothing but risks. If Machado is not traded, then it’s anyone’s guess as to where he goes next. But if he is traded, that team that acquired him will have the upper hand in free agency, so long as he enjoyed his time with that team. It doesn’t matter when the White Sox start paying him. All that matters is that they get the chance to pay him. That chance significantly decreases if he isn’t playing in Baltimore OR on the South Side in 2018.

These are the risks you have to take in order to form a competitive team.

One of the most confusing aspects of fans’ reactions to this rumor was, to paraphrase, the following: “Why would we give up prospects in order to get him when we could just sign him as a Free Agent?” Well, for the answer, look at the 3rd thought right above this one.

The reason this confused me was because the same fan base who, largely, was upset at giving up Chris Sale, a developed talent, for unproven “prospect” talent is the same fan base who is upset at the idea of giving up this same unproven talent to acquire Manny Machado, who is a developed star at 3B. Now, I get it, it’s early in the rebuild, and many fans are still just warming up to this whole “rebuild” thing anyway. However, the fact of the matter, White Sox fans, is that every single prospect in the White Sox organization right now will not be in the Major Leagues. Some players considered lower on our prospect list might even develop better than some of those listed higher on the list. And even if EVERY single prospect was in the MLB, they wouldn’t all be on the Sox anyway – the roster only has 25 spots. The Sox are going to have to take the risk and give up some prospects in order to complete this rebuild.

Either way, I understand that there is a clear risk. We can give up guys only for Machado not to sign with the Sox in 2019. But, in that case, we wouldn’t be looking back and asking “What if?” We could only be saying, “Okay, that didn’t work, what now?” No matter what, trust what Rick Hahn is doing and saying (per Daryl Van Schouwen):

“We are not looking to make any sort of move that’s aimed at simply jumping up and perhaps contending for a Wild Card or maybe even the division for one year. The focus remains on the long term…. Now, we may take some calculated risks along the way.”

This is the definition of a “calculated risk” to me.

At the end of the day, no one REALLY has a clue what is going on.

At one point, the deal seemed to be heading to completion because it was reported the White Sox had the best offer. Then, we find out the White Sox didn’t offer any of their top prospects. THEN, another article/post comes out contradicting the belief that the Orioles wanted Machado traded by the end of the week. I regularly talk baseball with a good friend of mine, and it truthfully got quite annoying to continue to send screenshots of tweets that at the end of the day all contradicted each other and left us confused as to who exactly was right. Who knows what’s going on? Nobody does. And that’s exactly the point, according to Rick Hahn, who, per Scott Merkin, had this to say about the rumors:

“Over the last year or so, you guys know how many of our transactions actually leaked out in advance vs. how many were perhaps a surprise or announced on White Sox letterhead for the first time. You can respond accordingly.”

Rick certainly does have a flair for the dramatics, doesn’t he?

WWJD: What Would Jordan Do?

If a contract extension was guaranteed, everyone – including Giolito and Lopez – would be on the table in a trade. The only untouchable remaining is Michael Kopech. Granted, if  the contract extension were guaranteed, this deal would probably be done already and I wouldn’t be writing this article. If no extension is guaranteed, then Giolito and Lopez are off the table. Either way there is risk involved, but if I can’t guarantee Machado is here for the long haul, I’m not giving up the guys who I know will be. My starting points for trades:

With Extension: Lucas Giolito + Spencer Adams + Micker Adolfo (as much as I like the kid)

Without Extension: Spencer Adams + Carson Fulmer

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