One. The Baltimore Orioles, who will trade him before the July 31 deadline. The Orioles should get a nice package of young players to rebuild around. What's the chance of Baltimore not trading Machado? Zero.
Two. The team that soon completes the trade with the Orioles. It will have Machado for the second half of the season, greatly improving its chances of reaching the postseason. The competition will be intense. The New York Post has reported that the Yankees are offering their top minor league pitching prospect.
Three. The team that signs Machado post World Series. It will take significant money and significant years.
Four. Scott Boras, Mr. Machado's agent. The same agent Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper have.
Five. And of course, Manny Machado, who could ink the richest free agent contract in baseball history. The starting point is the deal Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Yankees a year ago: Thirteen years and $325 million, complete with a no-trade clause.
The leading candidate for one, two, and three, of course, are the Yankees. They already have Mr. Stanton. Adding Mr. Machado and maybe Bryce Hunter — with the young team they now have — they could create another Yankee dynasty.
Should the Phillies intervene? Can they?
Yes and yes.
When the Phillies signed a 25 year, billion dollar deal with Comcast four years ago — estimated to be a windfall at anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion. It moved the team to the stratosphere, joining the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, and Cardinals, teams that have made similar cable TV deals.
The Comcast accord enables the Phillies the kind of revenue needed to land top free agents in today's market. Since the Comcast pact in 2014, the Phillies have been stocking it away for a rainy day.
But as comedian Chris Rock would say ending a joke line with that famous and hilarious eyes-wide-open look and broad smile: "It's rainin.
Look, here's the thing. It'll come down to which club wants to roll the dice. Will a team trade the farm WITHOUT a guarantee that Mr. Machado will eventually sign?
Yes, of course: The Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, Mets, Angels, Braves, Padres, Cardinals, and yes, the Phillies are all reportedly interested in Manny Machado. Getting him as a two-month rental might increase a club's chances of signing him in November.
Baltimore will build a future around the prospects they'll receive in the Machado deal, and one team will end up with a three-time AL All-Star and two time AL Gold Glove Award winner.
One significant edge the Phillies might have over the Yankees is that Baltimore will be reluctant to send Machado to a division rival — the Yankees — and have to pitch to him over the next decade. Signing Manny Machado would be equivalent to Ruben Amaro signing Doc and Clif Lee ten years ago. Philly will go crazy. Mr. Machado is just what this young Phillies team needs.
Besides, the team needs help. They are barely surviving in the weakest division in baseball. The Phillies need Manny more than he needs them.
At the end of the day, we'll see if the Phillies will and can play with the big boys. The Faithful attendance has shrunk lower than a three-day old hoagie. Grabbing Manny Machado will send a message:
The Phillies have arrived.