Assessing Manny Machado’s trade value

Orioles third baseman/short stop Manny Machado is responding to the worst year of his major league career in 2017 with the best start he’s ever had in his young career in 2018. Unfortunately, the 25-year old third baseman probably won’t net the return many are expecting for him on the trade market.

Machado is currently hitting .354/.440/.667 with a wRC+ of 188 while already being worth 2.1 wins through 164 plate appearances. The seventh year veteran has absolutely torn the cover off of the ball this season as he’s seen his hard hit rate skyrocket this season 30% while his soft contact rate has dropped down nearly six points to 35.8%. It’s unlikely that those contact rates — or his abnormally high BABIP of .348 — are sustainable as those numbers are well over his career norms; but he’s still going to be a valuable third basemen at the end of the season…even if his bat cools down.

The good news for any team looking into Machado is that he’s making “only” $16 million this season; the bad news is that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of 2018. While a player’s status as a rental hasn’t completely repressed their trade value in the past, it has limited the returns that the team trading them gets.

For example, prior to the 2008 trade deadline the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim traded Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek to the Atlanta Braves for three-plus months of Mark Teixeira — Tex had a wRC+ of 140 heading into the trade, Kotchman’s was at 101. The process behind the trade was bad for Atlanta as they were swapping for a relatively unremarkable Double-A arm — who’d been hot up to the deadline in ’08, but was mediocre (at best) the previous two years — and a much weaker first baseman that made their major league squad worse. It was a bad deal that left the Braves in a big hole that they’re just now digging out of.

Unfortunately for Baltimore, a team that’s tanking, the tale of teams that trade a young All-Star on the last year of his deal is littered with many tales like Atlanta when they ditched Teixeira at the deadline. It’s going to be tricky for the Orioles front office to get a deal done that will help replenish their depleted farm system while the team continues to tank for draft picks.

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