Dodgers land Manny Machado in blockbuster trade, send five prospects to Orioles

Dodgers land Manny Machado in blockbuster trade, send five prospects to Orioles

The Dodgers have reportedly acquired All-Star infielder and pending free agent Manny Machado from the Orioles in exchange for a package of five prospects. Multiple outlets are reporting the deal as done. Machado had been one of the most coveted names leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. In addition to the Dodgers, the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Brewers had been heavily linked to Machado in recent days. 

In Los Angeles, Machado figures to be the primary shortstop — the position left vacant by Corey Seager’s season-ending Tommy John surgery. That means Chris Taylor would slide over the second base, thus filling what’s been a trouble spot for the Dodgers all season. In the end, the Dodgers in Machado are adding one of the best power hitters in baseball to an offense that already leads the National League in home runs. 

Machado, who just recently turned 26, is batting .315/.387/.575 (164 OPS+) for the season with 24 home runs in 94 games played. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 121 across parts of seven major-league seasons. While he’s been a primary third baseman for most of his career, this year he switched back to his original position of shortstop.

Machado is owed $6.3 million for the remainder of the season, and as mentioned he’s eligible for free agency this coming offseason. Considering the Dodgers have Seager and Justin Turner installed at shortstop and third base, respectively, through at least the 2020 season (when Turner’s contract expires), they’re likely viewing Machado as a temporary fix. Given that Machado seems bent on testing the market, it’s possible he wouldn’t be open to signing an extension even if the Dodgers had such interest.

According to multiple reports, the Dodgers will not be receiving any cash in the deal. However, they do remain just under the luxury-tax threshold, which is in keeping with their recent organizational goals.

The SportsLine Projection Model was already high on the Dodgers for the rest of the season and has them as the leader in World Series probability in the National League. The forecast gives the Dodgers a bit of a boost, going from 94.1 wins without Machado to 94.6 with the addition of the infielder. Postseason odds go from 94.7 to 96.5 percent with Machado. As far as winning the World Series? The Machado trade raises the Dodgers’ chances from 23.7 to 24 percent.

On the Orioles’ side of things, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic names the five prospects they’ll receive: outfielder Yusniel Diaz (Dodgers No. 4 prospect coming into this season), third baseman Rylan Bannon (Dodgers No. 27 prospect), right-hander Dean Kremer (Dodgers No. 28 prospect), right-hander Zach Pop, and infielder Breyvic Valera. 

The headliner for Baltimore is Diaz, a 21-year-old product of Cuba who was a consensus top-100 prospect coming into the season. In 2018, he’s put up strong numbers in his first taste of Double-A. He profiles as a strong on-base threat at the highest level. Left to question is whether he’ll hit for power and whether he’ll be able to stick in center field. 

Bannon, 22 and a former eighth-rounder, has a strong .961 OPS on the season, albeit at hitter-friendly Rancho Cucamonga of the Cal League. He projects as a solid hitter with enough glove to stick at third.

Kremer, 22, has solid velocity and life on his fastball, and he also has command of a slider and curve. His changeup could develop into a usable pitch at the highest level. This season, he’s put up strong numbers at Rancho.

Pop, a 21-year-old relief prospect, has an ERA of 0.33 and more than a strikeout per inning across two seasons in the low minors. 

Valera, who’s spent time with the big-league club in 2018, is a 26-year-old switch-hitter who can play second, third, and the outfield corners. He hasn’t produced in limited action at the major-league level, but in the minors he showed good bat-to-ball skills and speed on the bases. 

Cubs late inning hitting, “coincidence” or reflective of intensified late inning ability

Cubs late inning hitting, “coincidence” or reflective of intensified late inning ability

In innings 1 – 4 the Cubs have scored 50 runs less than in innings 5-8. (9th inning doesn’t count, because if they are ahead they don’t bat, ) 200 versus 258, according to my calculations. This is without a doubt responsible for their many late inning comeback victories. What is the cause of this fairly significant difference? Is it just statistical anomaly or does it reflect increased concentration, etc when the pressure is on? Opinions are welcome.

FanPosts are written by readers of Bleed Cubbie Blue, and as such do not reflect the views of SB Nation or Vox Media, nor is the content endorsed by SB Nation, Vox Media or Al Yellon, managing editor of Bleed Cubbie Blue or reviewed prior to posting.

All-Star Game shows what game's become — home runs and strikeouts

All-Star Game shows what game's become — home runs and strikeouts

WASHINGTON — Boom or bust. This is what baseball has become — and that has owners worried.

“It’s just kind of what it is: home runs and strikeouts,” Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling said.

Stripling had just given up 10th-inning home runs on consecutive pitches to Houston’s Alex Bregman and George Springer on a night players combined for 10 longballs, nearly double the previous All-Star record.

Last fall, you may remember, the Dodgers and Astros totaled 25 home runs in the World Series, four more than had ever been hit before in a Fall Classic.

“It’s extremely tough to manufacture hits these days, especially with the shift,” Stripling said after the American League’s 8-6 win Tuesday night. “I certainly understand that’s where the game’s going, and so I think this game encapsulated that.”

It took until the 344th pitch for a run to be driven in on something other than a homer, Michael Brantley’s tack-on sacrifice fly that boosted the AL’s lead to 8-5. Joey Votto added the final home run in the bottom half, four more than the previous All-Star mark.

“Everybody’s throwing 97 to 100,” Washington ace Max Scherzer, the NL starter, said in a reference to pitch velocity. “You’re not going to string three hits together like that. So everybody’s just swinging for the fence.”

Hours earlier, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was expressing alarm. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time and are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season. This year’s average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005. The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972. And the average of 2.28 homers per game is just below the record 2.51 set last year.

“Standard operation nowadays, right? We’re going to homer-and-punch-out as an industry,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who led the AL to victory. “There’s a great love affair with both results.”

Among 90 plate appearances, 44 ended in a home run, strikeout (25) or walk (nine), at 48.9 percent the highest in All-Star history, according to STATS.

“I don’t really want to see guys shorten up and slap the ball around the infield just to avoid a strikeout. That doesn’t excite me,” said Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon, who won the NL batting title last year while hitting 37 home runs.

Many cite shifts as the cause of the, well, big shift in offense, transforming groundballs that once were hits into outs. There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season.

“There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played,” Manfred said. “We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it’s done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used.”

When it comes to change, players are Luddites. Union head Tony Clark maintained his members are “stewards of the game” and are resistant to tinkering with the rules for fear of unintended consequences.

“We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren’t 100 percent certain that what they are seeing is the type of game that they want to see,” Clark said.

Home runs bring the crowd to its feet, especially by the home team. 

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge started the All-Star Game barrage with a second-inning solo shot off Scherzer.

“I know the fans enjoy seeing these homers,” Judge said.

Watch how Cardinals respond post-Mike Matheny

Watch how Cardinals respond post-Mike Matheny

Baseball is back Thursday, with the Cardinals visiting the Cubs in a rivalry showdown that will be nationally televised by ESPN. That matchup got a lot more interesting when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was fired just before the All-Star break.

Was the firing justified? St. Louis entered the break 48-46, four games out of a wild-card spot. Run differential was favorable at +11. Far from a disaster.

But for a franchise that expects playoff-caliber results every season, there were reasons to believe the game had passed Matheny by. If you’ve been following the sport closely, you know MLB is evolving toward increased bullpen use and high strikeout counts.

Horrors on the hill

Cardinals’ bullpen ERA
Ranks 12th NL, 24th in MLB

Cardinals Ks per 9 innings
Ranks 12th in NL, 21st in MLB

And those poor rankings are despite the fact that Busch Stadium has been a pitchers’ park this season, reducing offense by 7 percent.

Matheny is a former major league catcher, so you’d expect him to do a good job with the pitching staff. But he had been the St. Louis skipper for more than six seasons. He may not have been evolving with the game. And it’s not uncommon for a veteran manager’s relationship with his players to grow stale.

Teams often respond well to managerial changes, particularly when talented rosters say goodbye to a veteran they’ve tuned out. Be sure you monitor level of play and intensity in these first three series after the break (five games at Cubs, three at Reds, three at home vs. Cubs).

They are divisional testers vs. opponents who have been thriving lately. A statement will be made one way or another.

The team most likely to end New York's longest trophy drought

The team most likely to end New York's longest trophy drought

May 5 passed without ceremony a few months back, passed without pause, and that was probably for the best. The Yankees beat the Indians that day, and the Mets lost to the Rockies that night. The Devils, the only one of five New York area winter teams to make the playoffs this year, were already two weeks into their offseason.

It was a busy sports day elsewhere: Justify won the first leg of his Triple Crown, at the Derby. LeBron James hit that ridiculous buzzer-beating bank shot to help the Cavaliers beat the Raptors in Toronto. Championship-caliber moments break out everywhere in sports, sometimes when you least expect them. Here? Not so much.

Here, it was the 2,281st day since New York City had last celebrated a championship, and that officially made it the longest sporting drought in a century, surpassing the six-plus years that passed between the Yankees eking past the Giants in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series and Joe Namath jabbing his right index finger at the world at the end of Super Bowl III.

Seventy-six more days have passed since, as we sit on Day 2,356. And, at the very least, another 100 days will pass until Oct. 27, which is the earliest date that the World Series can be clinched.

We are parched.

We are starving.

And, yes: the Yankees certainly have an excellent chance to be the team to finally drag our sporting city out of the desert, and they’ve certainly done their share through the years to make certain that New York’s wait between championships has never been the equal of, say, Cleveland’s from 1964-2016, or Buffalo’s from 1965 till now.

So it’s the Yankees.

Derek Jeter rides with the World Series champion Yankees up the Canyon of Heroes in 2009.Anthony J. Causi

And it had better be the Yankees, if not this year then soon.

Because as a little straw poll we did here at The Post the past few days reveals, if the Yankees don’t end that drought this October, or next October, or sometime early in the 2020s … well, this could go on for a while.

This wasn’t a scientific survey; the fact is, scientists and professional pollsters might get the bends if they studied our data-gathering methods. This was just a group of 20 or so folks with working sets of eyes and an innate love of sports and a functional knowledge of our teams — who’s on them, who’s not, and, as important, what the impediments are, from within and without, toward the Canyon of Heroes.

Honestly? You could poll 20 of your friends, 20 of your coworkers, 20 of the folks playing Trivia Night at your neighborhood saloon, and it’s unlikely your results are going to differ much from ours, especially if you do it like we did, taking seven categories and trying, as much as lay people can do these things, to find a sliver of optimism, a slice of hope.

And there is both sliver and slice: the Yankees are both. The Yankees are close. We knew that anyway, of course, seen them across the first half of this baseball season, watched them win two out of every three games they played. In our survey, out of a possible total score of 70 (ranking the seven categories from 1 to 10) they polled a 63.4. You’ll take your chances with that. That’s very good news.

The bad news?

Well … just about everyone else.

Coach Tom Coughlin with then-President Obama to celebrate the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Put it this way: the next-likely team to win a championship is a team that, in its most recent season, went 3-13, fired the coach, fired the GM, and is coming off a quarterback mutiny. It is also the team that is responsible for the city’s championship skid not lasting an additional 823 days.

And the Giants do have a vast amount of championship pedigree around here, historically, trailing only the Yankees, so as long as you aren’t expecting a title this year, it makes sense. They did, after all, announce themselves as a “now” team by retaining Eli Manning, drafting Saquon Barkley and refusing the label of “rebuilding.” Good thing. Their total of 42.4 may make them the second-most likely New York champion, but given the city’s alternatives it makes them more like the world’s tallest midgets than genuine Giants.

Who has a right to be optimistic? On the whole, hockey fans. On our rosters and in our midst are one reigning MVP (Taylor Hall of the Devils), one future Hall of Fame player (the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist) and one present Hall of Fame executive (Lou Lamoriello of the Islanders). The three teams also play in a league that, unlike the others, doesn’t have a core of elites that feel unassailable; an expansion team made the Cup finals, after all, so it’s impossible to think that anything is really … well, impossible.

That’s not the case for the other teams. The Jets, after all, perennially have to face the realities of sharing a division with the Patriots, and this year the Giants have the world champions in their own division. That doesn’t exactly build a fervor or a fever about making a deep run.

Maybe newly drafted rookie Kevin Knox can one day help the Knicks end their decades-long run of non-title seasons.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Whatever optimism Knicks fans and Nets fans can build for themselves — and there are some famished patrons who must be regularly hosed down just when uttering the words “Kevin Knox” — must be tempered by the reality that, for the foreseeable future, those two are battling for fourth place in the Atlantic, well in back of Boston, Philly and Toronto. And that doesn’t even take the Warriors into account.

The Yankees, of course, have no such concern because they are a clear member of the sport’s elite alongside the Red Sox, Astros and Dodgers. As for the poor Mets: alas, the re-emergence of the Yankees as the YANKEES is just one of about 30 reasons they did so poorly in this survey (a shaky manager and a deplorable front-office setup don’t help much, either), but the truth is there has been an active parlor game amongst the city’s three most bedraggled fan bases that goes something like this:

Q: Which of the Mets, Jets and Knicks is closer to winning a championship?

It is more than a little interesting that the Knicks and Jets wound up tied in our little poll, at 31.4, which is one way of answering the question: many, many years away.

And it is probably reflective of a bad year at the office that only the Nets inspire less hope than the present state of the Mets, who fancied themselves contenders at season’s start, yet enter the second half tied for last place with the Marlins, who aren’t trying to win.

Will the Yankees end this drought at 2,456 (hell, we’ll even take a win in Game 7, which will make it 2,460)? Will the Giants in, say, Super Bowl LIV (which would be 2,919)? Can we at least ponder St. John’s cutting the nets down at the Big East finals next March 16 (that would be 2,596, though it would probably have to come with an asterisk)?

Let’s hope so.

Otherwise we’ll have to reach back to some prehistoric sporting times, before 1920, before Babe Ruth, before the Yankees became the Yankees, when New York waited from 1905 until 1921 for Muggsy McGraw’s baseball Giants to make Gotham proud again. That was 5,843 days. (There was also no NFL, no NBA and no NHL then to take up the baseball burden.)

But hey, why sweat that?

We’re not even halfway there yet.

Manny Machado trade: Why Dodgers' best lineup option may include Puig, Turner in a leadoff platoon

Manny Machado trade: Why Dodgers' best lineup option may include Puig, Turner in a leadoff platoon

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a package of five prospects.

A natural response to the news is to wonder just what the Dodgers lineup will look like heading forward. First, let’s look at how they’ve typically lined up to this point.

Lineups before Machado trade

Lineup vs. RHP vs. LHP
1. CF Pederson SS Taylor
2. 2B Muncy LF Hernandez
3. 3B Turner 3B Turner
4. 1B Bellinger RF Kemp
5. LF Kemp 1B Muncy
6. C Grandal CF Bellinger
7. SS Taylor 2B Forsythe
8. RF Puig C Barnes

These lineups are of course fluid as players rest and deal with injury, but especially so for the Dodgers’ lineup against lefties, where Yasiel Puig sees plenty of time (when he’s not dealing with an injury), giving most of the team’s regulars a day to rest.

How will the Dodgers fit Machado into these lineups? Here’s our best guess — emphasis on guess.

Lineups after Machado trade

Lineup vs. RHP vs. LHP
1. LF Pederson 2B Taylor
2. 1B Muncy 3B Turner
3. SS Machado SS Machado
4. CF Bellinger 1B Muncy
5. 3B Turner RF Kemp
6. RF Kemp CF Bellinger
7. C Grandal LF Hernandez
8. 2B Taylor C Barnes

This is where building a roster brimming with versatile players comes in handy. Taylor has been the Dodgers’ shortstop since Corey Seager went down in April, but can slide across the bag to accommodate Machado. Bellinger, meanwhile, is the rare first baseman who can also play the outfield. Add in how the Dodgers have been deferring to non-Pederson options to man center, and it only makes sense for him to slot in up the middle.

Offensively, that’s a strong bunch. How strong? Turner’s 104 OPS+ is the lowest among the projected starters. If and when Puig returns, the Dodgers could boast as many as 10 hitters with OPS+ north of the 100 mark. Puig’s return will also create a lineup crunch against righties, as Joc Pederson has swung the bat too well against northpaws to sit regularly, while Puig himself has strong reverse splits against righties. Against southpaws, it’s just a matter of sending Enrique Hernandez to the bench, moving Matt Kemp to left field and playing Puig at his natural position.

The Dodgers will certainly move players in, out and around to accommodate Machado (a great problem to have). Muncy might not have the defensive chops for second base, but putting him there or at third to rest Justin Turner (when he’s healthy) allows Bellinger to come back to first base and Pederson to get some reps in center. Taylor might make some sense in center field if Max Muncy proves capable of handling second base.

Looks and sounds good, right? But how does it project? The people must know. According to Stephen Oh’s SportsLine projections, the Dodgers’ chances of making the postseason have improved — going from 94.7 percent to 96.5 percent. Los Angeles is also now predicted to win 94.6 games instead of 94.1. 

But what if the Dodgers think a little outside the box with how they construct their lineup?

Proposed lineups with everyone healthy

Lineup vs. RHP vs. LHP
1. RF Puig 3B Turner
2. SS Machado SS Machado
3. 1B Muncy 1B Muncy
4. LF Kemp LF Kemp
5. CF Bellinger CF Bellinger
6. 3B Turner RF Puig
7. C Grandal C Barnes
8. 2B Taylor 2B Taylor

Puig doesn’t have a ton of experience batting leadoff, but he did do some of it early in his career. He’s spent more time batting second than at any other position, but again, a large part of that came early in his career. He’s hitting .293/.344/.521 against righties this year and delivered an excellent .288/.355/.554 line against them last year.

If Muncy can stick at second base, we’d send Taylor to the bench as a super-sub getting 4-5 games a week and get Pederson’s bat into the lineup regularly in center field. At that point we’d probably bat Pederson leadoff and Puig seventh, shifting Yasmani Grandal to eighth.

Unlike Puig, Turner has next to no experience leading off, typically batting third or second in the order. But he’s had trouble staying healthy and hitting for power when he’s in the lineup this year. His best work has come against lefties, sporting a .295/.448/.409 line versus southpaws. That OBP isn’t a fluke; Turner hit .380/.477/.704 against lefties last season.

Turner’s 2018 line will play high in the lineup ahead of a Machado-Muncy-Kemp-Bellinger heart of the order. If he can start rediscovering his form, maybe it’ll be worth moving Taylor back to the leadoff spot against lefties and batting Turner in the heart of the order. Until that happens, platooning Turner with Puig at the top of the lineup could be the Dodgers’ best bet.