Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado has drawn interest from Baltimore's AL East rival Boston Red Sox, and such a trade would make zero sense for either team. Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun reported last night that Boston had been in "recent contact" with the Orioles about landing the All-Star in a trade, but interested hadn't progressed past the Red Sox sending a scout to Camden Yards for a game.
Let it be crystal clear. There is no way that a trade for Machado would make sense for Boston, let alone benefit the team, and for several reasons. Not only are the Red Sox 3.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East race, but the team ranks first in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. Boston is already in a great position to make a run at the World Series with or without the AL East crown, so it's not as though Machado is a major missing piece to the team's puzzle.
Of course, that's only the tip of the iceberg.
A crowded infield
Machado has been insistent on remaining at shortstop wherever he plays next, and that presents complications for any potential deal involving Boston. The Red Sox have 25-year-old Xander Bogaerts firmly entrenched at shortstop, and he is batting a respectable .277 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI on the year. Sure, the Orioles could take on Bogaerts in a potential trade, but he only has a 1.9 WAR on the year and wouldn't provide Baltimore much in terms of value. He also isn't what the Orioles are looking for in a return package, but more about that later.
However, Bogaerts isn't exactly an elite defensive shortstop with a defensive runs saved (DRS) of -13, plus a sub-average UZR of 1.5, and this is where things get interesting. Machado's DRS and UZR, respectively, are far worse at -20 and -7.8. That's a far cry from his career marks at third base, where he won two Gold Gloves and posted career DRS and UZR of 81 and 48.8. He may insist on playing shortstop, but his defensive metrics are far superior at the hot corner.
This brings the conversation to Boston's third baseman, 21-year-old Rafael Devers. He has 14 homers and 48 RBI this year, but his slash line currently sits at .241/.292/.424. This is an issue that can be sorted out in the minors, but Devers has been an established member of Boston's big league roster since last summer. This is the same man who turned a 103 mile per hour fastball from Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman into a game-tying homer to the opposite field. His patience at the plate needs work, yes, but adding Machado as a rental and stashing him in the minors isn't the answer.
On top of that, assuming Boston keeps Bogaerts, lands Machado, and he insists on playing shortstop, Bogaerts hasn't played third base since 2014. He only has 53 career games at the hot corner and his DRS and UZR there stand at -10 and -9.6. Devers hasn't been much better there this season with marks of -9 DRS and -3.0 UZR, but adding Machado is a risk Boston need not take in terms of the mess it would cause.
They don't have the prospects
Most important of all, Boston doesn't have the pieces Baltimore wants in any trade package involving Machado. The Orioles have insisted on receiving young and controllable arms from any trade partner regarding Machado, and the Red Sox just don't have those readily available in their minor league system. 19-year-old Jay Groome, the team's No. 2 prospect, just had Tommy John Surgery in May and won't be ready until next summer, and even then he'll likely need a couple of years in the minors.
Lefty Jalen Beeks is a possibility as he's gone 5-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Pawtucket and is currently on the big league roster as pitching depth, but he's already 25 years old. The same can be said for Chandler Shepherd, who is 4-7 with a 3.76 ERA at Pawtucket this year. In fact, of Boston's top 30 prospects as listed by MLB, Shepherd and Beeks are the only ones who have significant experience at Triple-A, with most of Boston's top pitching prospects currently pitching at varying levels of A-ball.
That leaves 25-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez as a possibility, but he too is 25 and has three arbitration years left. His price tag will only go up, putting Baltimore back at Square One in a few years.
Thus, unless Baltimore's asking price significantly drops, the Red Sox should not expect a deal for Machado coming to be.
As much as Red Sox Nation would love to have Manny Machado sporting a Boston jersey, it's probably not going to happen. Baltimore has very specific needs in terms of what they want in return, and the Red Sox just don't have it. There's also the logjam to consider if a trade were to happen, and Boston is performing well enough that such a situation isn't worth the headache.
If anything, Boston probably stuck its toe in the Machado sweepstakes for one reason: make the Yankees panic. The Red Sox don't overly need him, and neither does New York, but the race for the AL East is tight once again and anything one team can do to gain an advantage over the other will surely take place, even if it's just checking in on a white-hot trade target. In this case, however, the smoke surrounding the Machado-to-Boston rumors is all of that with little to no fire.