Chicago White Sox: Is risking rebuild for Manny Machado worth it?

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Could the Chicago White Sox pull off a stunning trade for Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado? And if they did, would it wreck all the work they’ve put in to rebuild the team?

After a year of some of the most impressive rebuilding we’ve ever seen from them, the Chicago White Sox could be on the verge of torpedoing their hard work for a chance a fool’s gold.

Or are they?

Rumor has it that the White Sox have apparently emerged as strong bidders for Baltimore Orioles star third baseman Manny Machado. Though he been linked to them via trade rumors in the past, nothing serious ever came to fruition. Yet now, with the Sox firmly in rebuilding mode, this is happening.

As exciting as this is, there are some really pressing issues here regarding trading for Machado.

First of all (somewhat minor), but where are you going to play him?

He has played third base primarily for the Orioles at the Major League level, but he apparently wants to play shortstop now. Right now, you have Tim Anderson manning that position for the foreseeable future, having just given him a six-year, $25 million contract.

Do you intend to just put Machado at third, sliding Matt Davidson to the DH spot, or would you trade Anderson to allow Machado to play short? And if you don’t, will Machado be unhappy and desire to go elsewhere?

Which leads me to the truly fundamental questions…

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For example, what are you giving up for him?

If the White Sox are putting together as strong a package as is rumored, it has to involve one of their top prospects. For my money, I’m going to say that Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Michael Kopech are off-limits to the Orioles. If they’re not now, they’d better get off-limits real soon.

As such, a player like Lucas Giolito is probably headlining the deal, perhaps with Reynaldo Lopez or Carson Fullmer. Heck, maybe the Chicago White Sox would throw in Anderson or another one of their infielders. Just a thought. No one knows anything just yet.

But after all the work the Sox have done to gather these prospects to set them up for the future, do they really want to give significant pieces up when they’re not ready to compete?

That’s the kind of thing Theo Epstein staunchly refused to do before the Chicago Cubs actually started playing well. I’d hope Rich Hahn follows that blueprint.

Interestingly, there’s the possibility that the White Sox actually trade for Machado and flip him to a team like the Yankees for more prospects.

In the Yankees’ case, particularly, they have the capital to spend on Machado but probably won’t be able to pry him away from their divisional foe. The White Sox could be a middle man for that and get some of the rich minor league bounty the Yankees have stored up.

Then again, this is all speculation. And much of that speculation about the White Sox dealing Machado themselves arises from this point: he’s offered no assurances that he’ll sign with them long-term.

At this point, Machado and his agent have declined to start negotiating with potential suitors at the moment, which means that, as of now, Machado would be a one-year rental.

That, combined with the loss of top prospects, should be a non-starter trade-wise unless the White Sox have received any assurances that he would, in fact, sign an extension at some point in the future.

Next: Who will play center field for White Sox in 2018?

Otherwise, what’s the point? Just adding Machado doesn’t make this team a real contender. And if he were unhappy with the team or his role, what then? They’d have to trade him anyway by the July 31st or risk losing him for nothing. Not a great situation to be in.

Until more information comes out, it’s hard to know where all this madness is heading. That said, Chicago White Sox fans should be in for a fun couple of days. I have a hard time seeing how this deal will materialize, but stranger things have happened.

And even if they did pull off this crazy trade, things could get even stranger.