Why it's a big risk for White Sox to trade for Manny Machado

 
 
Updated 12/15/2017 8:37 AM
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  • Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, left, will become a free agent after the 2018 season, and the Orioles are considering trade offers for him.

    Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, left, will become a free agent after the 2018 season, and the Orioles are considering trade offers for him. Associated Press

  • Manny Machado is only 25 and he has averaged 29 home runs and 86 RBI over five-plus seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

    Manny Machado is only 25 and he has averaged 29 home runs and 86 RBI over five-plus seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Associated Press

Heading into the winter meetings earlier this week, the Chicago White Sox sounded like a team that was in the second phase of a rebuild.

Over the past year, general manager Rick Hahn traded 11 veteran players for a pile of prospects while adding touted outfielder Luis Robert in the international signing period and first-round draft pick Jake Burger, a slugging third baseman out of Missouri State.

That was the first phase, the most important part of a rebuild.

The second phase involves patience. Give young talent such as Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez time to grow at the major-league level, and give Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Robert, Burger, Alec Hansen, Zack Collins and Blake Rutherford time to develop in the minor leagues.

"The clubs we've been dealing with in the last 12 months have benefited from enhancing their positions into the postseason," Hahn told reporters at the start of the winter meetings. "And it seems we've enhanced our position for the long term as well. If we're able to find a similar match in the coming days, we'll move on it.

"But at this point, my common theme of needing to be patient needs to be reiterated, not necessarily for White Sox nation, but for those of us up in the room."

A "similar match" seemed to be code for Hahn trading his two remaining veterans with value -- Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia -- for even more prospects.

But the Sox apparently have shifted into Phase 3 of the rebuild. That would be trading some of their young players for an established veteran.

In this case, Manny Machado is the established veteran.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Baltimore Orioles have received multiple offers for Machado, their star third baseman, and the Sox's offer is the best.

Interesting. And, stunning.

One one hand, the White Sox's involvement makes sense because Machado is only 25 and that age fits on a team in transition.

If it seems like Machado is a battle-tested veteran moving past his prime, remember he broke in with the Orioles at the age of 19. Over the past five-plus seasons, Machado has batted .279 while averaging 29 home runs and 86 RBI. He's a three-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove winner.

On the other hand, Machado is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, and you're hearing the cost to keep him is going to be $300 million-plus over 10 years.

Baltimore wants major-league ready pitching for Machado, and the Sox are loaded in that department.

You would have to think Giolito and Kopech are untouchable. The guess here is the White Sox's trade package to the Orioles starts with Carlos Rodon, who had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in late September. The recovery time is 6-8 months, so Rodon is expected to be ready to pitch before the all-star break.

Let's say the offer for Machado is Rodon, Dylan Cease and Carson Fulmer.

If that gets the trade done, the Sox would have plenty of money to meet Machado's expected asking price as a free agent. But suppose he wants to play somewhere else in 2019 and beyond, like the Yankees?

"Sometimes you need to be creative," Hahn said. "Sometimes you need to perhaps take a risk."

This would be a huge risk, but the Sox are likely thinking Machado would be comfortable playing on an up-and-coming team and would ideally be open to agreeing to a contract extension before hitting the free-agent market.

The White Sox are also likely thinking Machado could be traded for more prospects before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline if contract extension hopes fizzle, like they did with Jeff Samardzija in 2015.

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