The Baltimore Orioles are preparing to field offers for superstar third baseman Manny Machado as he enters his walk year.

The writing may finally be on the wall for the Baltimore Orioles. Having watched the New York Yankees trade for Giancarlo Stanton while building one of the best farm systems in the league and shedding excess cash to make a run at a big-name starting pitcher, the front office and ownership group in Baltimore may be ready to take their medicine and admit their window to win a World Series is officially closed.

That means All-Star third baseman Manny Machado may have played his final game as a member of the Orioles.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Orioles are preparing to begin fielding offers for Machado at the Winter Meetings. A deal could come together quickly as teams try and keep pace with the Yankees.

The Orioles’ goal in a Machado trade is to acquire two young, controllable starting pitchers, sources say. The O’s might not meet that target with Machado under control for only one more season, but their willingness to trade their best player is a marked departure for an organization that historically has resisted rebuilding and tried to field the best team possible under owner Peter Angelos.

This is absolutely the right move for the Orioles, who stand little to no chance at coming up with the $300 million or more required to keep Machado after this season. Even if they do come up with the money, has the front office done enough to show Machado they can build a winner around him while paying him $30 million a year? Starting a rebuild now — ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays — could position the Orioles to be ready to contend without another ugly 15-year process.

It’s now up to the rest of the league to step up and blow the Orioles away with their best offer. Most likely, he will be headed to a contender who feels they are one player away from winning the 2018 World Series and still has room to offer a huge contract next winter. These five teams stand out as the best potential trade partners for the Orioles as they prepare for life after Machado.

5. Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs were in the running right up until the end with Japanese star Shohei Ohtani and were one of four teams named by Giancarlo Stanton as acceptable trade destinations. Manny Machado has no such control over his potential landing spots like Ohtani and Stanton, but the Cubs are one of the most attractive teams in the league right now.

Starting pitching is obviously the most important need for the Cubs this offseason, and they have already made moves to address that area. Theo Epstein should also have some concerns about his offense, however. The Cubs were second in the National League in runs scored last year and third in OPS and home runs, but there are several very exploitable weaknesses.

As much as Epstein and the front office love left fielder Kyle Schwarber, it’s just a matter of time before he has to be traded to an American League team where he can slide to DH for the rest of his career. Could he become an attractive piece for the Orioles? If they are able to offload Mark Trumbo, then trading Machado for Schwarber and a few pitching prospects might entice the Orioles. Even with the trade last year for Jose Quintana, the Cubs still have a very deep farm system, headlined by five pitching prospects who all project as mid-rotation starters at worst.



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