As is often the case with anonymously-sourced reports, it led to more questions and a lot of potential scenarios being thrown around. Quite simply, the possibility of the White Sox acquiring Machado brought more than enough “ifs” and “buts.”
IF the White Sox acquire Machado, it would give them an established star who is still in his mid-20s. Machado has made three All-Star teams and finished in the Top 5 of AL MVP voting twice (and Top 10 three times), is a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman (and still very good defensive shortstop), has played in 156 games or more in three of his four full seasons, and won’t turn 25 until next July.
BUT Machado is a free agent after the 2018 season, meaning whatever price the White Sox would need to pay to acquire him would come with the caveat that they may only retain his services for one year.
BUT IF the White Sox can convince Machado to sign long term, they would have an already established superstar in his prime to pair with even younger up-and-coming superstars Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, giving the White Sox a lineup for the next 5-8 years that can wreak havoc on the American League.
HOWEVER (sorry that’s not an if or a but) reports that Baltimore would not grant an extension negotiating window with any trade partners increase that risk ten-fold. Regardless of the presumed price the White Sox would have to pay for Machado’s services, (reports circulated Thursday that Michael Kopech was not included in the White Sox offer, and Jimenez is a presumed non-starter) the White Sox would be acquiring a star one year away from a pay day the White Sox have never before been willing to pay, and would surely be giving up multiple Top 10 prospects from their stacked system.
BUT the White Sox have, as I just noted, a stacked farm system, and while even the least prospect-huggiest among us would wince at the idea of giving up the future potential of a Dylan Cease or Carlos Rodon or Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez, the White Sox have put themselves in a position where even acquiring a super-duperstar like Machado would not leave them a barren wasteland from a young talent perspective.
BUT what if the White Sox acquire Machado with the intention of flipping him for even more young talent? The Yankees farm system is ripe with talent, and Orioles owner Peter Angelos would likely be hesitant to deal with their divisional overlords, so maybe this all ends with the White Sox simply trading out prospects or young players for ones they like even more?
BUT as farfetched as that sounds, it’s even more so when you figure a team as ripe with cash as the Yankees would be even more likely to just wait for Machado to hit free agency, unload a dump truck of cash on top of his head, and continue on their war path toward world domination.
EVEN IF that’s not the immediate plan, the White Sox presumed fallback should they acquire Machado and fail to come to a long-term agreement would be to flip him before July 31. This would, of course, mean his value would be lower as he would be a mere ~3 months from free agency.
One of the things that makes this alleged pursuit so enticing (ya know, other than the idea of your favorite team acquiring a player of Machado’s ilk) is the presumption that it means the White Sox are prepared to do things differently than in the past.
As the White Sox completed their scorched-Earth rebuild, tearing down the core of yesteryear for new hope and promise years down the road, the fear has always been that when Moncada, Jimenez, and the rest of the White Sox young prospects reach their peak, the White Sox wouldn’t be willing to spend the money it would take to supplement that presumed core, just as they weren’t with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, and Jose Abreu.
Hahn addressed that on Thursday after the White Sox failed to make any news in the Rule 5 draft.
“If a high percentage of the players we have internally are able to contribute to a championship club in Chicago, it should be fairly cost-effective from a payroll standpoint which would allow us some freedom to be more aggressive on spending either on higher-price players via trade or in free agency,” Hahn said. “There’s been a lot of things over the last year that I think perhaps may have surprised people or at the very least deviated what people have perceived the way we would do things.
“There was certainly a notion that the Chicago White Sox would never rebuild, there was certainly the notion that the White Sox would never incur a substantial penalty or substantial tax in order to sign a player, as we did with Luis Robert. There was repeatedly written and reported, even a year ago at this time, that the White Sox would never make a trade with the Chicago Cubs, so we’ve repeatedly shown that what you’ve assumed about our actions in the past doesn’t indicate how we’re going to act going forward. So the notion that we wouldn’t potentially be aggressive when the time is right in free agency or would not spend big on a premium ticket item, I would say probably fits in with those old narratives that we’ve already proven to be false.”
I’ll be frank about this, I don’t expect the White Sox to acquire Machado. There’s a chance these reports are being used as leverage against other potential suitors, and there’s an even better chance Machado remains with the Orioles for at least the start of the 2018 season.
But whether or not the White Sox tipped their hand toward future plans or if this is merely white noise serving as a distraction during an otherwise moribund time for news around the organization, the Machado rumors show, if nothing else, that the White Sox are again willing to do business in a way we’re not normally accustomed to.
The risks, they are aplenty, but the reward is worth dreaming on.
Lead Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports