We all more or less knew it was coming. Baltimore is currently sitting on a 28-69 record and a .289 winning percentage that would be one of the worst in the modern era if the season were to end today. It was always unlikely that they were going to finish the season with Manny Machado still on the roster after they began the season 8-20, and the questions have inevitably been more “when” and “to whom” rather than “if.” The answer to the first of those questions turned out to be immediately after the All Star Game and the answer to the second is far from surprising.
The Dodgers had both the need, what with shortstop Corey Seager out since mid-May thanks to Tommy John surgery, and the means, what with one of the best farms among contending teams. But now that a deal is official (no small feat when dealing with Baltimore and their notorious physicals), we can dig in.
If you’re here reading about baseball, then you already know Machado, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s having the best offensive season of his career. He’s putting up career high numbers in every element of his slashline (.315/.387/.575) and thus his 156 wRC+ is a career high, and it’s the 8th best mark in the majors. The defensive metrics have not been kind to him since he moved back to shortstop this season, which in turn has affected his WAR totals through last three-plus months. DRS has been a little higher, and the resultant 4.7 bWAR is good for 5th place among position players, while UZR has been more skeptical and only allowed Machado 3.8 fWAR, which is slots him in 12th place. We’re talking about relatively small defensive sample sizes here, but it doesn’t really matter that much, as Machado is almost certainly the best rostered player changing hands this season.
The Dodgers, as expected, paid handsomely. They sent a package of five prospects to Baltimore, consisting of outfielder Yusniel Diaz, infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera and RHPs Dean Kremer and Zach Pop. Diaz, who occupied the number 84 spot at MLB’s prospect list going into the season and just last week snagged the No. 31 spot on the Baseball Prospectus Midseason Top 50, was the biggest get in the deal, but all of the players moved have upside and now are ranked very highly in the Orioles admittedly lackluster farm system.
But while the Dodgers may have given up a large number of players, they didn’t give up any of their most elite prospects, with Alex Verdugo and Keibert Ruiz staying put. The advantage of having a lot of depth allowed Los Angeles to make a deal where they keep their favorites and throw a gaggle of interesting prospects Baltimore’s way for one of the best players in baseball.
In terms of where the Dodgers sit now, they only have a 0.5 game lead over the Diamondbacks with the rest of the non-Padres in the NL West not that far behind. That’s not necessarily indicative of where things would have ended up, even without adding Machado, as Los Angeles’ run differential (+82) is nearly twice Arizona’s (+43). But almost two-and-a-half months of Machado, and the removal of Logan Forsythe (.208/.270/.301) from an everyday role, should certainly help create some separation in the standings and ensure a sixth-straight division win for the Dodgers, and that’s before you even get to October.
But there’s an added benefit to adding Machado, in that the Dodgers kept him away from other suitors they might face come October (and, if the rumors are to be believed, Arizona). Not only did the Dodgers get better, even though they probably would have made the playoffs regardless, but they prevented every other team from getting better.
Unlike when we discussed Machado going to the Indians, the Dodgers actually can afford to retain Machado’s services after this season. They’ve worked extra hard to reset the luxury tax clock this season (and will still have some work to do on that front if they’re going to improve their bullpen prior to the deadline), but that’s clearly going to end after this season and they likely go back to being one of the biggest spenders in baseball, if not the biggest. We might as well go ahead and accept the fact that Manny is going to be in Los Angeles for a while.
Grade for Orioles: A-
Baltimore clearly had no need for Machado and they went with a quantity approach with the Dodgers in terms of prospects. Despite the usual medical weirdness, GM Dan Duquette got it done and all but one of the prospects they got back is now a top-30 prospect in their system, per MLB.com’s rankings. That’s not a bad start to the rebuild that’s been basically inevitable. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Zach Britton and others before we can start making any judgments about the overall approach, but it’s hard to argue with the return they got for a couple months of Machado.
Grade for Dodgers: A-
Los Angeles has been so damn scary as of late because of their ability to develop homegrown players reliably and then fill in the gaps via trades and the spending of obscene amounts of money. While Los Angeles gave up quite a few reasonable prospects to retain Machado’s services, there’s no guarantee that they will be on the roster in a year or three or five. It’s much more guaranteed that Machado will make the Dodgers better right now, which is what they need. The Dodgers added a legitimate superstar before the trade deadline and now have one of the deepest lineups in all of baseball. Anything but a championship is going to be a disappointment, and this was the most obvious and best move they could make to make that happen.