We're still weeks away from the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline, and anticipation is mounting as to where the biggest names on the market will be traded. Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado could wind up seemingly anywhere but one team that seemed out of the race is now reportedly quite interested.
Meanwhile, Machado's Baltimore teammate Zach Britton is also on the market and could see himself dealt as the Orioles prepare a rebuild and the Midwest, the Milwaukee Brewers seem to be preparing a backup plan in case they lose the Machado sweepstakes.
Strap in, ladies and gentlemen. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Brewers eyeing Brian Dozier
The Milwaukee Brewers were linked to Machado earlier this week but with that market becoming more competitive, the NL Central leaders appear to be pursuing another target. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Brewers have recently spoken with the Minnesota Twins about a pair of infielders, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. Both are set to hit free agency this winter and Minnesota could not keep either without a serious hometown discount.
Escobar is 29 and can play both shortstop and third base, and he is currently batting .272 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI. He is also a switch-hitter, which ups his value automatically, and he would be an automatic upgrade at short in Milwaukee. Orlando Arcia has hit just .197 on the year, and Eric Sogard was recently designated for assignment. If the Brew Crew are indeed out of the Machado chase, Escobar is certainly a fine consolation prize.
But the more enticing target is Dozier, who has hit 91 home runs since the start of the 2016 season and posted a 5.0 WAR last year. That mark is down to 1.3 this year and he's only batting .229, but the Brewers are in win-now mode and Dozier can easily be acquired by flipping Jonathan Villar's team-friendly deal to Minnesota.
Neither Dozier nor Escobar are considered major prizes of this year's trade market but with the Brewers interested, they just became two names to watch.
Phillies eyeing Zach Britton
Manny Machado isn't the only Baltimore Oriole drawing interest on the trade market. Lefty closer Zach Britton, whose contract is up at season's end, is also available and Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia is reporting the Phillies as interested. Salisbury was quick to note that talks hadn't progressed past making initial contact with Baltimore, but Britton would still be a great fit in Philly.
Britton only just came back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the offseason, so his 4.26 ERA can largely be attributed to rust and his continuing recovery. Britton also dealt with forearm injuries last season, but still posted a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves. In 2016, he notched 47 saves with a spectacular 0.54 ERA while finishing fourth in Cy Young voting. He'd be an excellent upgrade over the struggling Hector Neris, but it all depends on Baltimore's asking price.
With Philadelphia tied with the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East, however, count on GM Matt Klentak working hard to acquire Britton and his power sinker if landing Machado doesn't pan out.
Yankees officially in on Machado
Just when we thought they were out, the New York Yankees are in. Jon Heyman of Fancred tweeted last night that the Bronx Bombers had made a "strong" offer for Machado. Considering Morosi said earlier that Baltimore wouldn't make a deal with New York unless top prospect Justus Sheffield was involved, one couldn't help but wonder if Yankees GM Brian Cashman caved to the pressure from the Boston Red Sox also checking in on the star shortstop.
Well, Cashman didn't cave as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reported later in the evening that Sheffield was not part of the deal, but didn't expand beyond that. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic later reported the Yankees' interest in Machado as "serious."
Needless to say, the idea of Manny Machado wearing the Yankee pinstripes is exciting. He'd give that already powerful lineup another big bat to help win the AL East in the second half of the season, but his addition comes with questions. He wants to play shortstop, so what would happen to Didi Gregorius? Would he be dealt or change positions? Or would Machado play third base for the rest of the year?
Moreover, what would happen to current third baseman Miguel Andujar and his 40 extra base hits this season? Would he be stashed in the minors or potentially traded to another team for a top pitcher like, for example, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom? Also, would Machado agree to a new contract upon arriving in New York or would he still test the market?
Most important of all, if Justus Sheffield isn't in the proposed trade, then who is?
The Machado sweepstakes are far from over, so all the fans can do at this point is continue to play the waiting game.