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Rumor grade: Phillies and Orioles are discussing a Manny Machado deal

Welcome to Winter Meetings, let’s grade some rumors.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

There’s always at least one This Doesn’t Make Much Sense Unless It Actually Happens And Then It Totally Made Sense the Entire Time, We Swear rumor during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings, and this year that’s the Phillies reportedly being interested in the OriolesManny Machado. So let’s grade it, shall we!

The Rumor

The Phillies are reportedly one of the multiple teams that have been rumored to have interest in Orioles’ star Manny Machado. As Roch Kubatko reports, nothing seems imminent, but just in case, Baltimore is “doing their homework” on the Phillies’ current crop of prospects. Machado is a free agent after next year and heading into 2018 he’ll only be 26, and due for a big payday.

The Orioles reportedly have interest in at least a few specific prospects: Sixto Sanchez, Philadelphia’s top pitching prospect, and Scott Kingery, the league’s top prospect at second base. They’re both top 50 prospects on the most recent Top 100 prospects rankings, so if these talks get more intense the Orioles at least know what they’re after. Kubatko also says that Philly’s Freddy Galvis has at least come up in the talks.

Why it makes sense for the Phillies

It makes sense if they don’t give up anybody that the Orioles are asking for at this stage. Could they use Manny Machado? Of course, because he’s Manny Machado. They could slot him in at third base and have he and Freddy Galvis make up one side of their infield easily.

But they’re also a team that is just emerging from the painful depths of the early years of a rebuild and giving up a star prospect (or more than one) for a one-year Machado loan isn’t the smartest move. Without absolute assurance that they could exclusively negotiate an extension with Machado before free agency (which has been discussed as part of any potential deal), this barely makes sense for them at all.

If they’re that interested in him they’d be better off riding things out as they stand at third base for a season and targeting Machado next offseason with the salary flexibility they will definitely still have.

Why it makes sense for the Orioles

It makes sense if they get what they’re asking for from the Phillies. There’s no guarantee that the Orioles will be good next season, and Machado could end up being a deadline trade anyway. So if, for some wild reason, the Phillies say yes to sending top prospects then yeah, sure the Orioles should go for it.

But that also means that they’d be giving up all hope for 2018 now, without even attempting to turn it around. Unless the haul they can get for Machado during this offseason far outweighs even the opportunity of a good season, then they are better off holding on to him until they see how things are panning out over the summer.

It’s fair that they are doing their due diligence though, because Machado coming back to Baltimore in free agency probably won’t happen, so if they’re taking calls about their star now it can only help them make the right decision in the long run.

Rumor grade

C-. The way it’s positioned now, this doesn’t have much heft to it. These are clearly introductory talks that may come to fruition over the next few months and might not. The Orioles are receiving interest from multiple teams and there’s no sign they are ready to pull the trigger on any deal.

Baltimore is simply using its time at Winter Meetings to gather as much information as possible about what a Machado trade could look like, which is the smart thing to do. Let’s not make it anything more than that.