The Los Angeles Dodgers’ greatest need is pitching. But, with a scarcity of top-flight pitching available in trade, the Dodgers decided to improve their team with the best player they could get.
Every run scored helps just as much as every run saved, after all. The Dodgers already lead the National League in home runs, and they just added a player who has hit more home runs than anyone they already had.
That player is Manny Machado. The Dodgers acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, in exchange for a package of five prospects headlined by double-A outfielder Yusniel Diaz, according to people familiar with the situation. The people requested anonymity because the deal had not been officially announced.
The other four players in the deal are double-A pitcher Dean Kremer, class-A pitcher Zach Pop, class-A infielder Rylan Bannon and triple-A utility player Breyvic Valera.
Machado, 26, a four-time All-Star, essentially becomes the replacement for the injured Corey Seager at shortstop.
Machado is eligible for free agency after the season. The Dodgers probably would need to give him the richest contract in franchise history — perhaps twice the $215 million deal awarded to Clayton Kershaw — to retain Machado into next season and beyond, when Seager is expected to return.
But that is an issue for later. For now, in pursuit of their first World Series championship since 1988, the Dodgers made their team stronger without giving up any of the players on their current roster.
Machado is one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters. He entered the break with a .315 batting average, 24 home runs and a .963 on-base-plus-slugging percentage — ranking among the American League’s top six in each category — backed up by a career-low strikeout rate and a career-high walk rate.
The Dodgers lost Seager to season-ending elbow surgery in May, but Chris Taylor has been a useful replacement. The versatility of Taylor makes the trade more functional. Taylor could replace Max Muncy at second base. Cody Bellinger could enter the outfield rotation with Muncy handling first base.
The Dodgers invested $15.6 million as a bonus to sign Diaz, 21, out of Cuba in 2015. He has blossomed with double-A Tulsa this season, hitting .314 with a .905 OPS. He showcased himself with a pair of home runs in the Futures Game on Sunday.
Baseball America ranks Diaz third among Dodgers’ prospects.
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