The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the Manny Machado sweepstakes. They have acquired the All-Star shortstop from the Orioles in a package headlined by prospect outfielder Yusniel Diaz. Machado, 26, was by far the most coveted trade target this season. He’s hitting .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs. He’s set to become a free agent at the end of the year, so unless the Dodgers can sign him long term than he’s a rental, so there is a lot of pressure for him to succeed and the Dodgers to win the world series. Let’s take a deeper look on how Machado fits with the Dodgers.
Where Machado fits in its confusing. It’s certain he’ll be in the middle of the order and will play shortstop. However, the lineup around him has a lot of moving parts. The most likely scenario is that shortstop Chris Taylor moves to second base, Max Muncy moves from second base to first base, and first baseman Cody Bellinger will move from first base to center field. So in a sense, Machado will be taking over for Kike Hernandez/Andrew Toles for now, and will also be taking playing time away from Yasiel Puig long term. Those three (Hernandez, Toles, Muncy) have combined for a .252 average, so it’s obvious having Machado in the lineup over any of them is a major upgrade. Machado’s .315 average is also much better than the .267 average that Dodgers shortstops have posted this season. While Machado’s -19 defensive runs saved are a concern, Dodgers shortstops only ranked 19th in the league with a .970 fielding percentage. Therefore, Machado isn’t any sort of downgrade defensively. When considering how much of an upgrade he is offensively though, it wouldn’t matter even if he was a downgrade defensively.
As mentioned before, Machado is a pending free agent at the end of the year. There is a small chance that the Dodgers are able to re-sign him, as Machado is likely to command a $300-400 million contract this offseason. There’s also the matter that they still have Corey Seager as the long-term answer at shortstop when he comes back from his shoulder injury next season. They could move Seager to second or hope Machado will move to third and move third baseman Justin Turner to second, but it’s unclear that they would want to go that route if it means paying an extra $300-400 million. Therefore, this movie was made to win the 2018 World Series and nothing more. This move definitely makes them the favorite to make to the World Series out of the National League, as they were arguably the favorite before even making this trade. As for winning the whole World Series, the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees still have a little more firepower than the Dodgers. However, if the Dodgers add a reliever or two to upgrade their bullpen that ranks #13 in ERA, Los Angeles will definitely be the best team in the MLB in my opinion. Even if they don’t upgrade the bullpen, they’d still have a great chance to win the World Series. This is because their 9th ranked offense will easily become ranked in the top five with Machado, while their pitching already ranks 3rd in the MLB. Add in their versatility, and there may not be a well more rounded team than the Dodgers.
The Dodgers only had to give up one prospect ranked in their Top 25. Sure, Yusniel Diaz looks like he’ll be a solid MLB player as he’s extremely well rounded, but they were able to acquire a top ten player in the MLB without giving up a top three prospect. They also could afford to lose Diaz, as they have plenty young outfielders in #1 prospect Alex Verdugo, #6 prospect DJ Peters, #7 prospect Jeren Kendall, and #16 prospect Starling Heredia. They also still have Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, who are 26 and 27 respectively and are serviceable outfielders. When you haven’t won a World Series in 31 years despite being a constant contender, you have to do whatever it takes to end that drought. This is very similar to the Cubs in 2016 or the Astros in 2017, but each had to pay more to add help. For Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs had to give up their top prospect in Gleyber Torres, who looks like an absolute superstar. For Justin Verlander, a 35-year-old with a high priced contract, the Astros had to give up RHP prospect Franklin Perez, who’s already ranked as the #31 prospect in the MLB. Machado is a better player than both of those guys, yet all the Dodger’s gave up was their 4th best prospect when they really didn’t need him.
I’d give the Dodgers an “A+” for this trade. They were able to acquire a top ten player to fill a need in the lineup, without giving up anything big. The Dodgers are desperate to end their 31-year championship drought, and they were able to get the best player on the trade market without hurting their future.