With the non-waiver trade deadline now just over a month away, the surging Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly thinking big.
With shortstop Corey Seager done for the year following Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers - just 2 1/2 games back of first place in the National League West amid a 16-6 June - have emerged as the unequivocal favorite to acquire Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles, several big-league executives and scouts told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports.
Machado, an impending free agent, is expected to be the most highly coveted trade target as July 31 nears, and the three-time All-Star has already been linked to the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. Orioles general manager Dan Duquette suggested earlier this month, however, that no team could deter Machado from exploring free agency this winter, noting that any club that pursues him "would do so knowing he's a rental."
As it happens, the Dodgers have gotten tremendous production from their shortstops in Seager's absence, with Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez combining to hit .266/.377/.500 (142 wRC+) with eight home runs, 10 doubles, and five triples since April 30. Though Justin Turner has struggled this season, the Dodgers are set at third base, too.
Still, acquiring Machado would allow manager Dave Roberts to use Taylor in center field or at second base while adding another impact hitter to the Dodgers' lineup. Through 77 games in 2018, Machado boasts a career-best .923 OPS (153 OPS+) with 19 home runs, 16 doubles, and one triple, while his 2.7 WAR ranks 18th among position players.