With Tuesday’s big news that Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star shortstop Corey Seager is set to miss the remainder of the 2018 season, one question came to mind: should LA pursue Orioles phenom shortstop Manny Machado?
With the Orioles sputtering out of the gates to start the year, the likelihood of a Machado trade seems higher with each and every loss. The mega-market Dodgers are now in need of need of an impact bat, and seem to lack the quality, infield depth to replace Seager’s presence in the lineup.
According to David Alder, Dodgers beat writer for MLB.com, “Since (Seager’s) first full season in 2016, he leads all shortstops with a 13.3 WAR, and fifth among all position players.” Machado is the type of player needed to replace that kind of production, both on offense and defensively. But what could the Orioles expect to get in return for their star shortstop?
In 2016, the Dodgers were ranked number one in MLBPipeline.com‘s top farm system rankings. In 2017, they fell to number six, and this year they hold the tenth spot on their list. Much of this fall has to do with the number of players within the organization that have graduated to the major league level. Some of those players include back-to-back National League rookies of the year Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, as well as players like Willie Calhoun and Jose De Leon have been traded to other teams across the league.
The Dodgers still have the type of prospects within their organization that the Orioles would ask for in return, and it would be interesting to see what kind of package the Orioles will desire knowing that Machado is essentially a rental only for the duration of this season. It’s unlikely that the Dodgers would pursue Machado in free agency with the team’s left side of the infield Seager and Turner under team control for the foreseeable future.
Four of the Dodgers current top 10 prospects are pitchers, including number one prospect Walker Buehler (number 12 prospect in baseball) who made his MLB debut just two weeks ago. I would assume Buehler would be atop the Orioles’ wishlist if the Dodgers decide to pursue Machado.
Here’s part of MLBPipeline’s scouting report on Buehler: “Buehler began 2015 as MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 Draft prospect but injured his elbow before Vanderbilt’s season started, never looked completely healthy and slid to the Dodgers at No. 24. He had Tommy John surgery a month after signing for a below-slot $1,777,500 and pitched just five pro innings when he returned to the mound in 2016. Then he took off last year, rocketing from high Class A to Los Angeles while making a case that he’s the best pitching prospect in baseball.”
Another name that may come up in trade discussions is outfielder Alex Verdugo. Could he be a potential heir to Adam Jones in center field at Camden Yards for years to come? Verdugo is the Dodgers number two prospect and listed at number 32 in all of baseball.
Now, this is all speculation. The Dodgers could stay in-house and utilize versatile utility man Chris Taylor at shortstop. This could even open up a potential major league outfield spot for Verdugo. If that combo succeeds, it’s possible the Dodgers continue to move forward with Taylor and Verdugo, but if either were to struggle, it would absolutely give Orioles’ scouts a chance to see how Verdugo fares against major league competition.
Since the Dodgers would only be receiving Machado for a few months of service, I would be shocked if both top prospects were included. But if I’m Dan Duquette, I’m adamant that one of those two players be included in a potential deal. If not, I’d wait until the deadline and hope two contending teams attempt to outbid one another. You’d have to think that Buehler or Verdugo, as well as a collection of other prospects would seriously tempt the Orioles front office to make a move.
The Dodgers got unbelievably close to a World Series title last season, losing a nail-biting game seven to the Houston Astros at home last fall. The Orioles can only hope that the 2017 near championship influences the Dodgers decision making, and maybe they’ll make an offer the Orioles cannot refuse.
The Dodgers have been plagued by injury to start the season. Seager, outfielder Yasiel Puig, third baseman Josh Turner (former-Oriole great) and left handed pitcher Rich Hill have all already hit the disabled list this year. Perhaps the Dodgers front office will be pressured into making a move, hoping to not waste another dominant campaign from aging ace Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers have won three straight NL West championships, but have no rings to show for it.
They currently sit at 12-15 and are sven games back behind the division-leading Diamondbacks. Now that Seager is done for the year, how long before the Dodgers front office hits the panic button? With over 185 million invested in the 2018 team, expectations are certainly higher than a .444 winning percentage.
With all of those stars on the DL, and with a mountain to climb in the NL West, perhaps a Machado trade isn’t all that far away. Could they get more in return the sooner they move Machado?
Only time will tell.
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