Machado fits for Phils — right now


Some­times the stars align just right and the thing you need the most is the thing that is most avail­able. This is one of those times for the Phillies, and they must seize the mo­ment. Now, not next win­ter, is the time to pur­sue Bal­ti­more su­per­star Manny Machado.

Yes, the price is go­ing to be high in terms of play­ers and dol­lars. The good news for the Phillies is they have both. The bet­ter news is Machado’s move to short­stop is per­fect tim­ing for the Phils.

It is no se­cret the two big­gest freeagent po­si­tion play­ers sched­uled to hit the mar­ket af­ter this sea­son are Machado and Wash­ing­ton’s Bryce Harper. Machado is the only one of the two who will be dan­gled as a re­build­ing tool at the July 31 trade dead­line. The Nats need not trade Harper be­cause they will be in con­tention and there’s a de­cent chance he’ll re­main in Wash­ing­ton.

As cool as it would be to have Mike Trout come home and play, he won’t be a free agent until af­ter the 2020 sea­son and the Phillies can­not wait that long to ac­quire a grand prize.

Be­fore we ad­dress what it might take to get Machado to Philadel­phia, let’s point out how valu­able he would be in the mid­dle of their in­field and the mid­dle of their lineup. Of the eight po­si­tions on the field, the Phillies’ great­est strengths of­fen­sively right now are by far cen­ter field and left field.

Odubel Her­rera not only leads the ma­jors in hit­ting, but he also is first among all Na­tional League cen­ter field­ers with a .978 OPS. Rhys Hoskins might not be hit­ting home runs at the same rate as a year ago — how could he? — but his .877 OPS is still the best among NL left field­ers.

Add Machado to the mix, and sud­denly you have three of the best of­fen­sive play­ers at their po­si­tions in the Na­tional League, not to men­tion a new source of power.

I’d ar­gue the Phillies need more hit­ting than pitch­ing if they want to com­pete with the Braves and Na­tion­als for the NL East ti­tle, although adding a lefty such as Cole Hamels at the trade dead­line would be wel­come, too.

What makes Machado most ap­peal­ing, how­ever, is he can help the Phillies now and long into the fu­ture. He will not turn 26 until July, so he is less than two years older than Scott Kingery and less than three years older than J.P. Craw­ford.

Machado also seems like a good fit for the Phillies given his mul­ti­ple re­la­tion­ships with the team’s front-of­fice per­son­nel. Phillies di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel Joe Jor­dan drafted Machado third over­all in 2010 and the Phillies’ front-of­fice trio of pres­i­dent Andy MacPhail, gen­eral man­ager Matt Klen­tak and as­sis­tant GM Ned Rice was all with the Orioles at the time.

He could come to the Phillies and im­me­di­ately be com­fort­able. Now, let’s talk about the price. It seems like a slam dunk that the Orioles will trade Machado at the dead­line be­cause they’d be fools not to. For the Phillies, the key would be get­ting the short­stop to agree to a long-term con­tract be­fore a trade is com­pleted.

What’s the price for a 25-year-old su­per­star? Ten years at $250 mil­lion? That’s likely the low­est price. It could cost as much as $300 mil­lion for a 10-year deal, which would match the $30 mil­lion per year the Phillies are pay­ing Jake Ar­ri­eta. Gian­carlo Stan­ton was 25 when he signed his record 13-year, $325 mil­lion deal with the Miami Marlins in Novem­ber 2014.

Work­ing in Machado’s fa­vor is the fact a su­per­star short­stop is even more valu­able than a su­per­star out­fielder, although a short­stop is also more likely to get hurt be­cause he is in­volved in more plays on the field. That fear, how­ever, has been al­layed some by the rules that have greatly de­creased the sever­ity and fre­quency of take-out slides.

Any­way, the Phillies, who rank in the bot­tom third in pay­roll and have fu­ture con­tracts com­mit­ted to only six play­ers, have the money to sign Machado. They also have the play­ers. It makes sense that if the Orioles are about to lose their short­stop that they’d like to get a young short­stop to re­place him.

Craw­ford would be avail­able. If the Orioles also want Kingery, the Phillies should be will­ing to do it. Yes, Kingery is an ex­cit­ing young player who, de­spite some re­cent strug­gles, has a chance to be a star. Is he ever go­ing to be Manny Machado? Highly un­likely. Fur­ther­more, the player most as­so­ci­ated with the Phillies in next month’s draft is Ore­gon State’s Nick Madri­gal, a 5-foot-8 sec­ond base­man whose tal­ent is de­scribed as be­ing very sim­i­lar to Kingery’s.

Would the Phillies also be will­ing to part with prized pitch­ing prospect Sixto Sanchez? If not, they could of­fer a list of other pitch­ing prospects and let the Orioles choose one. There is enough pitch­ing depth in the Phillies sys­tem right now that they could af­ford to lose an arm.

The main point is the Phillies have the money to sign Machado and the play­ers needed to trade for him. Get him and they can be World Se­ries con­tenders right now. The stars are aligned just right for it to hap­pen.

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