Corey Seager is out for the season. Manny Machado could be available now.
On paper? It’s a match. In reality? Let’s just say that we wouldn’t suggest you plan on buying a Machado jersey in the Dodgers gift shop.
Why not? It really is a match.
In the sense that Seager is an offensively dynamic shortstop and Machado is an offensively dynamic shortstop, yes.
How is Machado doing this year?
Machado, 25, a three-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles, leads the major leagues with a .361 batting average. He also has nine home runs. No one on the Dodgers has more than four.
The Dodgers couldn’t find a way to fit a long-term contract for Yu Darvish or Giancarlo Stanton into their budget. Why would this be different?
Machado does not have a long-term contract. He is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. That would work in the Dodgers’ favor since Machado plays shortstop and third base. The Dodgers have third baseman Justin Turner signed through 2020. They expect Seager to return next season; he is not eligible for free agency until 2021.
Could the Dodgers sign Machado to an extension now, then move Seager or Turner to first base and Cody Bellinger to the outfield next year?
Machado is not signing an extension now. He is on the cusp of free agency, where every team can bid on him, and the Dodgers almost certainly wouldn’t guarantee the $400 million or so it might take to get him to skip free agency.
Why not? The Dodgers have the richest TV deal in baseball, and they raised ticket prices more than any other team this season.
And it’s extremely doubtful they would consider any long-term commitment to Machado before resolving the uncertain status of franchise player Clayton Kershaw, who is expected to opt out of his contract this fall if he stays healthy this summer.
If Machado would just be with the Dodgers for a few months, they ought to be able to get him pretty cheap in trade, right?
No. The going rate for elite players -- even for players with expiring contracts -- is quite high. When the Chicago Cubs got closer Aroldis Chapman to help them win the World Series two years ago, the trade price was their best prospect, infielder Gleyber Torres. When the Cubs needed a starting pitcher last year, they got Jose Quintana by trading outfielder Eloy Jimenez. At the start of the season, Baseball America ranked Torres and Jimenez as two of the top six prospects in baseball.
Did the Dodgers have any players in the top 30?
One: pitcher Walker Buehler, ranked 13th. The Dodgers need him now.
The Miami Marlins last winter asked for each team’s top prospect in exchange for outfielder Christian Yelich, who had five years and up to $58 million left on his contract. The Milwaukee Brewers traded their top prospect -- outfielder Lewis Brinson, ranked 18th on the Baseball America list -- and three other prospects for Yelich.
Since Guggenheim Baseball bought the team in 2012, how many times have the Dodgers traded their top prospect?
Zero. Those top prospects have included Seager and Cody Bellinger -- the last two rookies of the year in the National League --Buehler, and outfielder Joc Pederson.
No. That would require the Dodgers to extend Machado a qualifying offer. Such offers cannot be extended to players acquired during the season, according to the collective bargaining agreement.
But don’t the Orioles have to trade Machado now or risk losing him for a draft pick or two?
If “now” is defined as sometime this season, yes. If “now” is defined as “Corey Seager is out and the Dodgers need Machado now,” no. If the Dodgers are not willing to overpay, there is no reason for the Orioles not to let the market play out over the next couple months, then solicit multiple bids from teams interested in Machado, who figures to be the best position player available in trade this summer, by far.
And Baltimore owner Peter Angelos is famously reluctant to trade his best players, as the Dodgers and Houston Astros learned last summer when they tried to trade for closer Zack Britton.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin