WASHINGTON — If the Baltimore Orioles had a deal in place Tuesday to trade Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, well, Machado claimed he didn’t know about it.
“Nothing, nothing,” the star shortstop said before the All-Star Game when asked if he had been informed of a trade by either the Orioles or his agents. “I haven’t heard anything.”
But USA Today reported earlier Tuesday that the Orioles and Dodgers worked out a trade that will be announced Wednesday while also noting that the Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers were “still in the mix” for Machado. And both the Los Angeles Times and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported during the All-Star Game that Machado will, in fact, be headed to the Dodgers.
The Phillies were a serious suitor for Machado even as news of the trade began to trickle out. After the USA Today report was published, one source characterized the Phillies as still “aggressively motivated” to land the top prize on the midseason trade market and confident in their ability to do so. Another source said Orioles general manager Dan Duquette “likes Philly’s pitching [prospects] enough to keep them in it as of [Tuesday] morning.”
If Machado is headed to the Dodgers, it will mark the second time in a few weeks that Philadelphia has lost out to Los Angeles in the bidding for a high-profile athlete. Despite being pursued by the 76ers, LeBron James signed with the Lakers.
The Phillies have the third-lowest OPS in the NL at shortstop (.634), but the top alternatives to Machado are third basemen. They have scouted the Minnesota Twins’ Eduardo Escobar and the Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas, both of whom are eligible for free agency after the season. Escobar has played shortstop in addition to third base, but there’s some doubt about his ability to be an everyday shortstop.
Machado made clear that he’s expecting to be traded any day. He has grown weary of questions about where he will be playing after the all-star break and said Monday that he hopes his situation is resolved much sooner than the July 31 trade deadline.
“I’m just worried about the game today and whatever happens moving forward will happen,” said Machado, who represented the Orioles in the All-Star Game and went 0-for-2 in five innings as the AL’s starting shortstop. “There will be a time and place for everything.”
Former Phillies lefty Cole Hamels said last week that he would consider it a “blessing” to be traded back to his original team. But if the Phillies upgrade their starting rotation, they could turn to another familiar face: Toronto Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ.
Like Hamels, Happ is likely to be traded before the end of the month, and the Blue Jays have scouted the upper levels of the Phillies’ farm system this week. Happ has a 4.29 ERA through 19 starts and represented the Jays in the All-Star Game.
“I think I’m aware that it could [happen], and I think I’m only aware because somebody mentions something,” Happ said. “I try not to make too much of the specifics of what a team could potentially do or if I’m going to get traded at all. It’s something I’ve just got to let happen.”
Happ went 14-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 47 games (31 starts) for the Phillies from 2007 through July 2010 before being traded to Houston in the Roy Oswalt deal.
The idea of bringing the designated hitter to the National League is “gaining momentum” among players, according to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. But that’s nothing new, said commissioner Rob Manfred, who nevertheless believes “the most likely outcome remains the status quo.” … Manfred said owners want a conversation with the players’ association about rules changes, including ones that would address the time between putting balls in play, the increased number of strikeouts and the increased use of infield shifts.