If the Phillies want Manny Machado, it looks like they will need to go get him—and get him now.
Earlier in the week, some questioned why the team would trade some of its top prospects in a deal to acquire the 25-year-old superstar when they could keep their prospects by simply outbidding competitors a year from now. The fault in that logic is that they aren’t just competing against themselves. As it turns out, other teams are interested in a generational talent yet to reach his prime. Go figure.
It’s nice to see the Phillies are interested, but of course they are. Who wouldn’t be? It’s hard to get a read on how aggressive they plan to be. With the Ruben Amaro Jr. regime, this was a no-brainer. The conversations between Amaro and Orioles general manager Dan Duquette would have went something like this:
Amaro: We want Manny Machado.
Duquette: Give us everything.
With Matt Klentak in charge, who knows? We’ve seen him attempt (with some success) to acquire veteran talent with the hope of later flipping it for prospects. We’ve seen him exert patience in overseeing this rebuild. But the thing we don’t know about Klentak is the thing we never got to find out about Sam Hinkie—can he find ways to close deals that bring premium free agents into the fold and get a team into contention? How aggressive, how desperate will he be when he really wants something? What’s more, if a deal for Machado requires prospects like Scott Kingery, or Sixto Sanchez, should he do it?
I wouldn’t. Signing Machado would create serious buzz. The Phillies instantly become relevant by adding a player who has the potential to pop 35-40 homers a year and play consistent Gold Glove defense. It’s an enticing thought. Nobody wants the Phillies to make a splash, take the next step, and get back to the postseason more than I do, but parting with either of the two would be a tough pill to swallow—Sanchez, in particular. This isn’t Kyle Drabek—the kid has a chance to be a dominant starting pitcher at the Major League level—and soon. In two years, when the Phillies are theoretically in contention, would you rather have an infielder posting an .805 OPS (Machado’s career average), or a 22-year-old ace throwing in the triple-digits who’s under team control? Keep in mind that the team can add significant offensive pieces elsewhere. It’s hard to show restraint in this situation, but arms are harder to find than bats.
And who’s to say a deal involving Kingery and Sanchez would be enough to even get it done? Given the volume of teams in play that have reportedly made strong offers, it seems virtually impossible that either player would be left out of any potential deal. The White Sox, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, are reportedly willing to part ways with one of their top prospects in Michael Kopech or Lucas Giolito, both of which are two of the most coveted in the game. Other reports indicate the Cardinals have made a strong offer, and, unsurprisingly, the Yankees are involved.
The Phillies have done well to rebuild their system and use it to their advantage to swing the big dick when the deal is right—but if it involves Sanchez, then this isn’t that deal.