By Bruce Levine–
ORLANDO, Fla. (670 The Score) — The White Sox are looking to make a bold move amid their rebuild.
The White Sox are near the front of the line when it comes to trade partners for Orioles star third baseman Manny Machado, sources said, confirming news that was first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The thought process of the White Sox would be to add credibility to the rebuild to show they’re serious about winning, much like the Cubs did in signing Jon Lester before the 2015 season, and thus display they’re a destination to join to win.
The Orioles are looking for young, contract-controllable pitching in return, and the White Sox have plenty of that.
Machado, 25, is a three-time All-Star who hit .259 with 33 homers and 95 RBIs last season. He’s also one of the best defensive players in the game.
He’s set to be a free agent at season’s end, so the White Sox front office may ask for a 72-hour window to negotiate and agree to a long-term contract with Machado. That situation would provide assurance before offering top young players in the organization as trade bait.
The White Sox could also offer a lesser trade package and try to extend Machado later while pitching that they still retained all their top talent.
There’s another scenario in play as well. The White Sox could acquire Machado and then flip him to another club between the present and the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 in an effort to get more prospects then.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was mum on Machado specicially Thursday morning but did remind the team’s big-picture vision hasn’t changed a bit.
“You know us well enough to know we will not talk about any individual trade rumors,” Hahn said. “That includes anything specific to conversations we may or may not be having. However, you know that everything we have done over the last year-plus has been aimed at putting us in the best position possible for the long term. Nothing has changed in terms of what we are trying to accomplish.
“We are not content in making any kind of move that will have us contending for a wild card or even the division for one year. The focus remains on the long term. We may take some calculated risks along the way. We have repeatedly said we are going to be opportunistic in this market and explore opportunities to make us better. The goal remains to put us in position for the long term. Nothing over the last few days or the last year-plus has been done with the intention of deviating from that long-term vision.”
Machado is expected to garner a contract of eight to 10 years that could go into the $300-million range when if he hits the open market. He’s hit at least 33 homers each of the last three seasons, has a career .805 OPS and is a two-time Gold Glove winner.
Machado has expressed interest in playing shortstop. The White Sox would likely accommodate that request by moving shortstop Tim Anderson to another position, perhaps center field.
The intrigue will continue as the Orioles mull a series of offers in the coming days.
“We are very interested in premium young talent that can be here for the long term,” Hahn said. “That has not changed. Whether that is prospect-level talent that you have seen us accumulate over the last year or young players that are already in the big leagues, the focus remains to put us in position for the long term.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.