Manny Machado’s on-field selfie with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp in the middle of the All-Star Game on Tuesday night seemed proof-positive that the Phillies weren’t landing the slugging shortstop.
And a day later, the cheesing all-stars officially became teammates, as the Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up a trade with the Baltimore Orioles.
Machado, 26, who led Baltimore in batting average (.315), home runs (24) and RBIs (65), greatly improves the Dodgers’ chances of reaching the World Series for a second consecutive year. He is expected to be introduced in Milwaukee on Friday before the Dodgers open a series against the Brewers.
The Orioles received five prospects in the deal: outfielder Yusniel Diaz, righthander Dean Kremer, third baseman Rylan Bannon, righty Zach Pop, and third baseman Breyvic Valera. Diaz, a 21-year-old outfielder in double-A, hit two home runs in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday and is hitting .314 with a .905 OPS with six homers, 30 RBIs and 36 runs scored.
For the Phillies, they can begin practicing their sales pitch to Machado, who will become a free agent after the season, and start charting how they can bolster their first-place team for the second half.
Losing Machado is certainly deflating, but it could be worse. The Phillies won’t have to worry about the Dodgers after their series next week at Citizens Bank Park. Machado won’t stop the Phillies from contending for a National League East crown. Imagine how much more it would sting if he had landed in Washington or Atlanta. Plus, it is all but guaranteed that Machado will test free agency. The Phils will get a chance to woo him, and it’s certain that general partner John Middleton will have his checkbook ready.
The Phillies were only in the mix for Machado because their young roster outperformed expectations with an unlikely charge to first place at the all-star break. Now, the front office owes it to the clubhouse to at least reinforce the roster. With Machado gone, the team will focus on strengthening its bullpen and adding a bat and, perhaps, a starting pitcher.
Baltimore lefthander Zach Britton is healthy after offseason surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He can handle the late innings, plus give the bullpen another lefthander. San Diego’s Brad Hand and the Mets’ Jeurys Familia could be options, but both will likely be pricier than Britton. Brad Brach, who filled in as Baltimore’s closer when Britton was on the disabled list, also would fit.
Zach Eflin hopes to start for the Phillies on Tuesday, which would provide two weeks for the blister on his middle finger to heal. But, if Eflin’s blister lingers, the Phillies could be in trouble. Each game is crucial in the second half, and the Phillies can’t afford to roll out Enyel De Los Santos every fifth day if he gets hammered the way he did on Sunday in Miami. The Phillies need be ready to add a starter.
Toronto’s J.A. Happ said this week that he’s aware he could return to Philly, and Cole Hamels said it would be a blessing to pitch again for his first team. Detroit is shopping righthander Michael Fulmer, a former first-round pick by the Mets who can’t become a free agent until after the 2022 season. Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, who has a team option through 2021, might be available. Trading for either of those would be a move with benefits past this season.
No team in baseball has gotten less offensive production from the left side of the infield than the Phillies. Their third basemen and shortstops have combined for a negative WAR, which helped fuel the desire to add Machado. But now the Phillies need to decide whether adding a third baseman would be an upgrade.
Without Machado, the shortstop market is thin, so the Phillies could look at third basemen Mike Moustakas of Kansas City, Adrian Beltre of Texas, and Eduardo Escobar of Minnesota. But are any of them significantly better than Maikel Franco, who is playing through his best stretch of the season?
If the Phils do not add an infielder, they still could use a bat. Their OPS (.709) is three points lower than it was at this point last season, when they had 20 fewer wins. The Phillies are winning more this season, but they’re still not hitting.
An intriguing option is Detroit outfielder Nick Castellanos, who has an .877 OPS and would be a nice presence in the lineup. He won’t become a free agent until after next season. Adding Castellanos would also upgrade the bench, with Nick Williams sliding into a reserve role.
Castellanos is no Machado, but he could provide the second-half boost the Phillies need.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.