We traded Manny Machado to every team. Here’s whom he helps most

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If the competitive landscape of the NBA determined the tilt of the North American continent, you might have noticed a bit more of a westward lean Monday morning. If you haven’t heard, LeBron James announced his departure for Los Angeles, where he will try to resurrect the Lakers‘ on-hiatus dynasty. Just like that, with a news release, the hierarchy of an entire league was upended.

There simply is no baseball equivalent. If Mike Trout were suddenly released from his Los Angeles Angels contract and decided he wanted to play for the Baltimore Orioles, the O’s would be better and the Angels would be worse. But the effect would be fractional compared to James’ move. It’s the nature of the sport.

Keep that in mind as we set out to overanalyze the coming MLB trade season. With the non-waiver trade deadline looming at the end of this month, there could be some big names on the move. The biggest prize is Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado, who can become a free agent after the season. With the Orioles on pace to win 47 games (no, really), it seems a cinch that Machado will be playing for another team a month from now. A trade could come down any day.

Machado is an elite player who is putting up a level of production right on target with his preseason forecast. Nevertheless, the team that ends up with him won’t be ensuring itself of anything. Whereas at this time yesterday, the Lakers seemed like a fringe playoff candidate in the NBA, and today they are considered a surefire postseason entrant and possibly one more big splash from title contention.

That said, Machado makes more sense for some teams than others. In an effort to put some numbers to this, I decided to inject his trade candidacy into this month’s Stock Watch. In addition to the usual metrics, each team is listed with its “Machado Bump.” That is: How much would the acquisition of the Orioles’ star infielder boost each team’s win forecast? How would it impact their chances to win it all?

To calculate this, I “traded” Machado to every team in the majors, one at a time. For each club, I integrated him into its depth chart, moving around other pieces as needed. The assumption in terms of trade return was that Baltimore would be taking back minor league prospects who don’t impact the big league depth chart. This isn’t perfectly realistic. For instance, a Cubs-Orioles trade involving Machado would likely also include Chicago’s starting shortstop, Addison Russell. Why else would Baltimore do it?

Rather than guessing the exact trade package each team might surrender, it made for more consistency to simply introduce Machado onto each team’s roster, and off that of Baltimore. After “trading” Machado to each team, I ran 10,000 simulations of the rest-of-the-season schedule with the reconfigured rosters, giving me the revised figures for win forecast and title probability.

The Machado Bump is meaningful, if not earth-shattering. The uptick in win forecasts depends on the quality of players being uprooted, along with the remaining schedule each team faces. However, the championship forecast has a lot to do with how the possible postseason matchups stack up, which makes this exercise particularly interesting. In the American League, the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox are so tightly clustered that another elite acquisition could be a tipping point among them. The same could hold true for a whole clutch of National League teams. This plays out in the simulations.

As usual for Stock Watch for this time of the year, teams are grouped into three classes: Buyers, Holders and Sellers. Within each of these groups, the teams are ordered by the Manny Bump to its title chances, with ties broken by the bump in win forecast. And yes, every team gets a Manny Bump. There isn’t a team in the majors that wouldn’t be made better by his presence.

Buyers

New York Yankees

Current win forecast: 103.9 (Change from June: +1.3)

Current playoff probability: 95.6% (Up 5.6%)

Current championship probability: 16.8%

Manny Bump: 2.10% title probability | 3.4 wins (12th)

The Yankees might marshal their resources elsewhere, as the starting rotation looks like the key area for the Bombers to target this month.

The bump noted here speaks to how much could be at stake for Brian Cashman and his underlings. Those marginal wins need not come from Machado, of course. His impact in the simulations is mostly due to temperate rest-of-the-season projections for New York’s young infielders — Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. However, if those guys keep doing what they’ve done, Cashman can feel secure in going after an impact arm such as J.A. Happ, Michael Fulmer or Chris Archer.


Houston Astros

Current win forecast: 106.7 (Change from June: +5.1)

Current playoff probability: 97.4% (Up 7.5%)

Current championship probability: 27.0%

Manny Bump: 1.90% title probability | 2.3 wins (28th)

As with the Yankees, and many of these teams, the marginal win upgrade Machado provides to the Astros might be more likely found elsewhere. In Houston’s case, it would be the back of the bullpen. However, it’s interesting to scramble the stacked Houston depth chart to accommodate Machado. In the end, I ended up moving Alex Bregman to left field, leaving Machado to play alongside Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve in the infield. Not a bad group.

Realistically, the Astros will be targeting relievers such as Zach Britton, Brad Hand and Raisel Iglesias.


Chicago Cubs

Current win forecast: 91.2 (Change from June: -4.2)

Current playoff probability: 71.7% (Down 7.9%)

Current championship probability: 12.9%

Manny Bump: 1.10% title probability | 1.9 wins (29th)

The Machado-to-the-Cubs rumor has been a persistent one all season, with an element of that being his longtime friendship with Chicago center fielder Albert Almora Jr. For these simulations, I didn’t “trade” Russell to Baltimore, but I did minimize his presence on the Cubs’ depth chart, so this is a decent stab at what a Machado acquisition might look like. With Chicago rich in positional talent, the win upgrade is marginal, but the effect on Chicago’s postseason fortunes is worth considering.


Atlanta Braves

Current win forecast: 89.1 (Change from June: +1.0)

Current playoff probability: 62.0% (Up 11%)

Current championship probability: 1.9%

Manny Bump: 0.84% title probability | 4.6 wins (second)

My assumption in these scenarios is that the team landing Machado would be at leisure to use him at shortstop or third base as needed, which might not be how Machado assesses the situation. But turning the hot corner over to him in Atlanta and moving Johan Camargo into a utility role had a startling effect on the Braves’ win forecast. Still, another third-base option such as Mike Moustakas or Adrian Beltre might make more sense for Atlanta.


Arizona Diamondbacks

Current win forecast: 89.5 (Change from June: +7.2)

Current playoff probability: 65.8% (Up 35.5%)

Current championship probability: 2.8%

Manny Bump: 0.70% title probability | 3.3 wins (13th)

The Diamondbacks seem to have a whopping need in the middle of the infield, one that Machado would more than fill. He does boost Arizona’s forecast, though frankly I expected more. However, it seems that even the considerable upgrade he provides wouldn’t be enough to close the gap in baseline talent between Arizona and the other top postseason clubs.


Cleveland Indians

Current win forecast: 93.0 (Change from June: +2.6)

Current playoff probability: 92.4% (Up 13.9%)

Current championship probability: 5.9%

Manny Bump: 0.64% title probability | 2.4 wins (27th)

Cleveland needs relief pitching in the worst way, but Machado makes a lot of sense for it in a vacuum. The Indians have ranked in the bottom 10 by bWAR at second base and all three outfield spots. The second-base issue is the most pertinent here, as Machado would bump Jose Ramirez over to the keystone, giving the Indians an Astros level of star power in the infield. Yet, Machado can plug only one hole, and even with him, Cleveland doesn’t stack up with Houston, Boston or New York.


Milwaukee Brewers

Current win forecast: 92.3 (Change from June: +1.3)

Current playoff probability: 76.3% (Up 11.9%)

Current championship probability: 3.0%

Manny Bump: 0.34% title probability | 3.4 wins (10th)

The Brewers’ title odds don’t dovetail perfectly with their win forecast because of a lingering mediocre rating of their true talent level. So while their chances to play into October are looking good, the system still sees them as underdogs if confronted by the Cubs, Nationals or Dodgers.

Machado, who could play shortstop in Milwaukee, narrows that gap. However, another addition, perhaps to the rotation, would likely be necessary to bolster the on-paper outlook. Other deadline candidates Milwaukee could look at include Jed Lowrie, Whit Merrifield and former Brewer Scooter Gennett, but none of those athletes plays short.


Seattle Mariners

Current win forecast: 92.6 (Change from June: +3.0)

Current playoff probability: 64.5% (Up 13.5%)

Current championship probability: 2.0%

Manny Bump: 0.18% title probability | 2.5 wins (24th)

Accommodating Machado wouldn’t be simple for Seattle, though obviously the Mariners would make it work. It would get especially complicated when Robinson Cano returns. However, Machado would help compensate for Cano’s absence in the playoffs, when Cano will be ineligible because of his PED suspension.

The Mariners are intriguing because they clearly have a talent deficit in relation to the AL’s beasts, but they are a deep, well-balanced team with no glaring holes. They need a creative general manager to upgrade the roster in a non-disruptive manner. Fortunately, in Jerry DiPoto, that’s exactly what Seattle has.


Boston Red Sox

Current win forecast: 102.5 (Change from June: +0.2)

Current playoff probability: 94.3% (Up 4%)

Current championship probability: 11.4%

Manny Bump: 0.10% title probability | 2.4 wins (26th)

Imagine Machado hitting angry homers for the Red Sox instead of against them. On one hand, the Red Sox’s forecast going forward is to be better at all the infield spots, where they’ve fallen short thus far despite the team’s overall impressive start. However, the projection for a solid Dustin Pedroia going forward is tenuous at best. Still, the area I see ripe for an upgrade in Boston is behind the plate, with Miami’s J.T. Realmuto being a fantastic fit. But Machado is good, too.


Holders

Los Angeles Dodgers

Current win forecast: 87.7 (Change from June: +1.0)

Current playoff probability: 57.1% (Up 3.5%)

Current championship probability: 7.8%

Manny Bump: 1.50% title probability | 2.4 wins (25th)

Yep, the Dodgers’ on-going slumber has finally dropped them into the Holders class. When you look at the Cubs’ metrics above, and what’s here, a Machado-to-Chicago trade looks like a worst-case scenario for the Dodgers. Los Angeles could certainly use Machado just on the face of it, not only because of the value upgrade he provides, but because of his style.

The Dodgers have a lot of similar hitters up and down the roster — effective in the big picture but overly passive during some stretches. Machado would be a jolt in the middle of all that. Beyond this possibility, L.A. must improve its bullpen depth over the next few weeks.


Philadelphia Phillies

Current win forecast: 86.2 (Change from June: +0.3)

Current playoff probability: 44.4% (Up 3.8%)

Current championship probability: 0.4%

Manny Bump: 0.44% title probability | 3.8 wins (fourth)

The Phillies get a huge win bump from Machado, though the title chances still are faltering from my system’s forecast. There’s some roster-wide regression — crucial for the calculation on true talent level — which contributes to that. However, Philadelphia has definitely underperformed on the left side of the infield. Most of the players there are young — Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery — so you don’t know when, or if, they might put it together. It really depends on just how much prospect inventory the Phillies are willing to move for a rental player they might be able to sign after the season anyway.


Washington Nationals

Current win forecast: 86.4 (Change from June: -4.5)

Current playoff probability: 48.9% (Down 17.2%)

Current championship probability: 4.5%

Manny Bump: 0.40% title probability | 3.8 wins (fifth)

The Nationals need a catching upgrade, which is why they’ve been connected to Realmuto since spring training. Getting Machado into the Washington lineup requires some shuffling, since the biggest need is at first base. In the end, I plugged Machado in at shortstop and turned Trea Turner into a super utility player who still got an everyday level of playing time.

Anyway, the Nationals don’t figure to be in on Machado. What they really need is a consistent fifth starter and regression — in the good way — from Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman.


St. Louis Cardinals

Current win forecast: 83.8 (Change from June: -3.1)

Current playoff probability: 33.3% (Down 12.5%)

Current championship probability: 1.3%

Manny Bump: 0.38% title probability | 2.6 wins (23rd)

In terms of bottom-line value, Machado doesn’t upgrade the Cardinals as much as you might think. For one thing, he would spur some interesting lineup choices for Mike Matheny, even more than St. Louis is already dealing with.

However, you figure Machado could bump Jedd Gyorko to second, possibly sharing time there with Matt Carpenter while Machado and Paul DeJong hold down the left side of the infield. Then Carpenter could also split time at first with Jose Martinez while Kolten Wong serves as a glove of the bench. (Though, surely, acquiring Machado would mean others are moved out.)

It’s quite a shuffle, but, frankly, the Cardinals need a jolt. St. Louis is one of the more underachieving clubs in the majors.


San Francisco Giants

Current win forecast: 80.8 (Change from June: 0.9)

Current playoff probability: 19.1% (Down 2.5%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

Manny Bump: 0.30% title probability | 4.9 wins (first)

The Giants’ big bump in wins is intriguing, especially considering how close San Francisco has stayed in the NL West race. Obviously, trading for Machado would obliterate the Giants’ plan to stay under the tax threshold, and anyway, it’s doubtful they could put together a package to win the Machado sweepstakes. So, really, this is just an intellectual exercise that involved shifting Evan Longoria to the outfield. Maybe they should move Machado to the outfield; even with Longoria on the disabled list, the San Francisco infield has been lights-out of late.


Los Angeles Angels

Current win forecast: 81.9 (Change from June: -5.0)

Current playoff probability: 10.7% (Down 26.7%)

Current championship probability: 0.7%

Manny Bump: 0.20% title probability | 3.4 wins (11th)

Take note of the Angels’ current playoff probability. The threshold for dropping into the Sellers class is anything below 10 percent. The Angels are almost there. Going after Machado would be a desperation move, but with Zack Cozart done for the season and Shohei Ohtani‘s mound availability up in the air, maybe these are desperate times for the Angels.


Oakland Athletics

Current win forecast: 85.6 (Change from June: +3.3)

Current playoff probability: 21.5% (Up 2.4%)

Current championship probability: 0.1%

Manny Bump: 0.18% title probability | 2.7 wins (21st)

The A’s moved into the No. 10 spot in my power rankings this week. Those ratings are what fuels the simulations. Oakland is a team to watch, especially because it has climbed into the fringe of the playoff race despite dealing with a number of injuries and even though, other than Lowrie, there haven’t been any particular off-the-charts individual performances.

Machado might be beyond their sights, but I’d love to see Billy Beane add to this mix at the deadline. There is nothing in my metrics that separates Oakland from Seattle beyond the Mariners’ superior start to the season.


Sellers

Minnesota Twins

Current win forecast: 76.9 (Change from June: -1.6)

Current playoff probability: 8.8% (Down 11%)

Current championship probability: 0.7%

Manny Bump: 0.20% title probability | 2.8 wins (19th)

From here on out, the Machado bump is listed for entertainment purposes only. Instead, we’ll focus on the assets these Sellers have that might aid someone else’s cause in the postseason.

The Twins are newcomers to the Sellers class, one they had not meant to be in. But with the gap between Minnesota and Cleveland growing larger, and the one between the Twins and the top of the wild-card standings even wider, it’s getting close to pull-the-plug time.

Second baseman Brian Dozier is the top trade candidate, though his less-than-stellar first half doesn’t help his trade value. On the other hand, this is a classic sell-high opportunity when it comes to Eduardo Escobar, a player forecast for 0.3 WAR who is on pace for 3.9. Also of interest is reliever Ryan Pressly.


Colorado Rockies

Current win forecast: 77.7 (Change from June: -0.4)

Current playoff probability: 9.6% (Down 6.1%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

Manny Bump: 0.16% title probability | 2.7 wins (22nd)

The Rockies haven’t likely thrown in the towel, but it’s not looking good. The offense has been better of late, but the starting pitching that propped up Colorado early in the season has gone missing. Opening Day starter Jon Gray was recently shipped to the minor leagues. The turnaround is so shocking that I hadn’t actually included any Colorado players in my ranking of deadline trade candidates.

The obvious candidates are the guys with expiring contracts. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu is a stalwart, but the Rockies have infielder Brendan Rodgers in Triple-A. Another player who could go is reliever Adam Ottavino.

Really, though, it seems more likely that the Rockies try to hold things together and then try to build up for next year in an effort to convince Nolan Arenado that this is the place he wants to be for the long haul.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Current win forecast: 76.8 (Change from June: -1.0)

Current playoff probability: 8.1% (Down 4%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

Manny Bump: 0.12% title probability | 3.3 wins (14th)

In the end, the Pirates’ stumble after a solid start to the season is probably for the best. The front office can now proceed with clarity. There are several players on the Pittsburgh roster who could bring back a nice return and have a tangible effect on the pennant races.

That group starts with catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is enjoying a career season. He’s the best deadline candidate among catchers after Realmuto. Pittsburgh also could look to sell high on Corey Dickerson, whom they landed for a song before the season. There are others, including Starling Marte, Felipe Vazquez, Ivan Nova, Jordy Mercer, Sean Rodriguez.

If Neal Huntington wants to make a deadline splash, the opportunity is certainly there. The question is if the will is there to move more familiar names in the wake of a fan backlash that has extended into the season.


Toronto Blue Jays

Current win forecast: 78.9 (Change from June: 3.2)

Current playoff probability: 4.7% (Down 0.5%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.08% title probability | 3.5 wins (ninth)

What the Jays need is better luck with their collective health, particularly when it comes to free-agent-to-be third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson was projected to be right up there with Machado as an elite trade candidate, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. If Donaldson can get back and show some of his expected production, then Toronto can offer him as an alternative to a team looking at Machado that might be unwilling to meet Baltimore’s asking price. (Whatever that might be.) Toronto also is the team to watch when it comes to starting pitchers, with Happ joined by Marco Estrada as alluring targets.


Tampa Bay Rays

Current win forecast: 81.4 (Change from June: 2.7)

Current playoff probability: 8.9% (Down 2%)

Current championship probability: 0.1%

Manny Bump: 0.06% title probability | 3.1 wins (17th)

The Rays have been one of baseball’s hottest teams, with its unconventional pitching staff configuration leading to one of the best run prevention units around over the past few weeks. Well, along with Blake Snell. But you know the Rays also will be willing to swap marginal short-term losses for longer-term gains. Archer is a perennial name on the rumor mill, but Matt Duffy, Wilson Ramos, Adeiny Hechavarria, Carlos Gomez and Sergio Romo are all veterans who the Rays could dangle.


New York Mets

Current win forecast: 70.3 (Change from June: -7.2)

Current playoff probability: 1.5% (Down 9.7%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.02% title probability | 3.1 wins (16th)

If the Mets did decide to blow it up, no team could offer more impactful players — health provided, of course. It probably won’t happen, but the list of possibilities is dizzying. That starts with Jacob deGrom, whom the Mets will probably keep but who also might bring back a monster return. Also on the list of possibilities: Noah Syndergaard, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce.


Cincinnati Reds

Current win forecast: 72.3 (Change from June: +6.5)

Current playoff probability: 2.1% (Up 1.5%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.02% title probability | 2.8 wins (20th)

Suffice to say, this is a key time in the career of Reds general manager Dick Williams. On paper, it looked as if the Reds could take a step forward this season if some of Cincinnati’s young pitchers turned the corner. Instead, the Reds started 3-18 and manager Bryan Price was fired.

However, Cincinnati has been pistol-hot over the past couple of weeks and is three games over .500 since that awful start. Williams plucked reclamation project Matt Harvey from the Mets and he has been solid, seemingly getting better with every start. That makes him a real asset as the deadline approaches.

Williams has other candidates, with closer Iglesias being a key barometer. He would fetch a solid return, but if Williams believes the Reds are close, does he move him? Other candidates to go include Gennett, Billy Hamilton, David Hernandez and Jared Hughes.


Kansas City Royals

Current win forecast: 54.9 (Change from June: -7.9)

Current playoff probability: 0.0% (Down 0.7%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 4.2 wins (third)

Everybody must go. Third baseman Moustakas is the one to watch. His contract is more palatable than that of Machado or Donaldson, which the Royals could leverage to get a little better quality of prospect in return. Merrifield would be a solid get for any team with an infield hole, and Danny Duffy has turned it around after a rocky beginning.


San Diego Padres

Current win forecast: 67.4 (Change from June: -6.8)

Current playoff probability: 0.2% (Down 7.4%)

Current championship probability: 0.1%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 3.8 wins (sixth)

The Padres have been behaving like a team that would prefer to turn the corner sooner than later, so it’s not a given that they go into full sell mode over the next month. If they do, teams looking for bullpen help — that is, all contenders — will be wearing out the phone of general manager A.J. Preller. The Padres could offer back reliever Hand, but also other quality performers such as Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates and even surprise rookie Adam Cimber.


Chicago White Sox

Current win forecast: 62.0 (Change from June: 1.9)

Current playoff probability: 0.1% (Down 0.3%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 3.7 wins (seventh)

Jose Abreu is Chicago’s most valuable remaining trade chip, though he’s not a player the White Sox have to move or might even want to. As Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis have shown in Atlanta, there is value to hanging onto quality veterans through a rebuild.

The most likely White Sox to go are probably veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Nate Jones might have joined them, but he is on the disabled list. In any event, if the White Sox hang onto Abreu, it’s not going to be a splashy deadline on the South Side.


Miami Marlins

Current win forecast: 64.3 (Change from June: +6.8)

Current playoff probability: 0.0% (Up 0%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 3.5 wins (eighth)

The Marlins are clearly a team to watch as a club early in a rebuilding stage. Realmuto is the big fish, so to speak, but he’s also young enough that Miami might want to hang onto him. That, in turn, could serve to only drive up the club’s asking price for Realmuto.

Elsewhere, veteran Starlin Castro would clearly make sense on a more established team. Miami would probably have to eat most of his contract to get much of a return. The Marlins also have interesting bullpen pieces to offer up in Kyle Barraclough, Adam Conley, Drew Steckenrider and gas-throwing righty Tayron Guerrero.


Texas Rangers

Current win forecast: 72.7 (Change from June: +4.9)

Current playoff probability: 0.8% (Up 0.1%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 3.2 wins (15th)

The Rangers have some intriguing trade candidates, headlined by veterans Cole Hamels and Beltre. But Texas also could look to move bottom-of-the-rotation options such as Bartolo Colon and Jesse Chavez, and lefty reliever Jake Diekman would attract attention, as well. And watch out for reliever Keone Kela, who has been good since moving into Texas’ closer role.


Detroit Tigers

Current win forecast: 66.1 (Change from June: -6.5)

Current playoff probability: 0.1% (Down 5.9%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Bump: 0.00% title probability | 3.0 wins (18th)

Leonys Martin has played his way into trade candidacy, though he just went on the disabled list. The Tigers also could shop Nicholas Castellanos and Jose Iglesias, along with perennial deadline trade candidate Francisco Liriano. The player to watch, though, is Fulmer, who would net Al Avila his biggest return. Still, Fulmer is early enough in his career that the Tigers might well prefer to let him anchor their future rotation.


Baltimore Orioles

Current win forecast: 55.1 (Change from June: -4.9)

Current playoff probability: 0.0% (Down 0%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Manny Hit: 0.00% title probability | -3.5 wins (30th)

To bring this all back full circle, I’ll punctuate my introductory thoughts about LeBron James by pointing you to the Baltimore Orioles. They have Machado, one of the 10 or 15 best players in the game. Yet, here they are, on pace to lose 115 games. Not even Trout is a better example of a big fish languishing in a dried-up pond. After they’ve traded Machado, Britton, Adam Jones and others, the Orioles could actually get those 115 losses.

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