The National League Central looks like it could be a tough division this year. There are currently four teams above .500, and first place and fourth place are separated by just 1.5 games (although the less said about the last place Cincinnati Reds, the better).
The Chicago Cubs, only a couple seasons removed from a World Series championship, are still in “win now” mode. Their current shortstop Addison Russell is struggling at the plate, hitting .241 and slugging .324 with no home runs and just six RBI. In short, an upgrade at shortstop would help their chances at getting back to the World Series.
Meanwhile, soon-to-be free agent Manny Machado is lighting it up for the Baltimore Orioles, and is one of the only good things on an otherwise crappy team. He’s hitting .346/.432/.617 with nine home runs and 27 RBI, while also being one of the best defensive infielders in the league. He will be 26-years-old later this summer and is expected to command up to $300 million on the open market this winter.
With an awful 8-26 record, the Orioles will certainly trade Machado to the highest bidder rather than let him walk away for nothing. According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs plan to open negotiations with the Orioles this week to try and get something done well in advance of the trade deadline. The Cubs also tried to trade for Machado over the winter, but Baltimore wasn’t interested at the time.
“We leave all the baseball decisions up to the baseball guys,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “To the extent there’s a window where they want to sign more guys or not sign more guys, that’s their decision.”
Machado would likely be a rental for the Cubs, since they are unlikely to break the bank to re-sign him when the season ends. However, if they do manage to get Machado into a Cubs uniform this season, it would be a special reunion with his childhood friend Albert Amora, currently playing center field for Chicago.
“That would be special,” Almora said. “It’s something we’ve always talked about growing up. We were always so confident. We always said, ‘Man, we’ve got to try to play together in our (big-league) careers one day.'”