Sorry, Chicago White Sox fans ... wrong time,wrong place for Machado

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado points to a teammate who scored on a two-run single during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, May 18, 2018.

    Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado points to a teammate who scored on a two-run single during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, May 18, 2018.

 
 
Updated 5/22/2018 8:14 AM

Before Monday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox catcher Welington Castillo gave an obvious answer to an expected question.

"Everybody would want him," Castillo said. "Who wouldn't want to have a guy like him?"

 

Manny Machado is the guy, and Castillo was his teammate last year, both with the Orioles and the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"He's special, honestly," Castillo said. "It's nice to play with him in the same lineup and spend time with him. He's an awesome player and an awesome person. I think that's why everybody is talking about him. Everybody sees, because he's been showing them every year, what he can do."

In the final year of his contract and playing for a Baltimore club that is buried in the AL East basement, the question isn't will Machado be traded this season? It's when?

Castillo would love to be reunited with Machado, who entered Monday's play leading the major leagues with 42 RBI while ranking second with 14 home runs and third with a .343 batting average.

Machado hit his 15th homer in the fourth inning, a solo shot off White Sox starter Hector Santiago.

"I've got one mindset, it's to play baseball," Machado said. "Play baseball, go out there and leave it all on the field. After that, I can't control any of that stuff."

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That is Machado's way of blocking out all of the trade rumors and the attention like he got before Monday's game. It is obviously working.

There are some who feel the White Sox are in the running to acquire that 25-year-old superstar before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, even though it makes very little sense.

A free agent at the end of the season, Machado most likely is going to be a rental player for the rest of the year. Are the rebuilding Sox looking for a player with that status?

"I don't know about that," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn last week. "Obviously, it all depends on pricing with everything.

"But going back to the trade deadline of (20)16, we've had the same sort of marching edict throughout this organization that we're not going to do anything short term that's going to compromise our long-term competitiveness or success."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In other words, no imminent deal for Machado.

But what about the off-season, when the soon to be four-time all-star is going to be a free agent?

With such a young roster, the Sox are going to have plenty of money to spend on proven talent.

"As I've said repeatedly, there will come a time in this process when we become more aggressive on the veteran side of things in terms of free-agent or trade acquisitions," Hahn said.

Considering top prospects Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Zack Collins, Dane Dunning and Blake Rutherford have yet to reach the majors, the guess here is the White Sox don't start beefing up the payroll until after the 2019 season.

Another factor to consider is the Sox have never been wild spenders on free agents. Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million contract is the largest in franchise history.

There already is speculation that Machado is going to sign a deal in the 10-year, $400 million range.

Rick Renteria is in his second season managing an undermanned White Sox roster, and he undoubtedly would have a much easier time with a player such as Machado in the lineup. He also understands the reality of the situation.

"I have to maintain and make sure that I take care of every single guy we have in our clubhouse at this moment and everybody we have in the system," Renteria said. "Maybe we do have a Manny Machado within our grasp within the system.

"I certainly hope so."

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