Where will Manny Machodo finish his season?

Manny Machado has been a staple of the Baltimore Orioles since his rookie season in 2012. The Orioles have had their ups and downs over Machado’s career, but for the most part, they’ve at least been competitive. This season it seems to have all fallen apart. Machado will be a free agent at the end of the year and he’s certainly putting his talents on display. He’s had a red hot start with 14 home runs, good for second most in the league, a league leading 42 RBIs, and is batting an impressive .343.

The Orioles, on the other hand, have begun the season with the second worst record in the league (14-32), dead last in the AL East, and have an uphill battle in front of them. Although their bats seemed to have woken up winning five of six, they’ve cooled again, losing four of five. Machado has not expressed a desire to resign after the season, and he will likely be moved before the All Star break. The question is, where will he go?

There’s no doubt that Machado would instantly make any team better both offensively and defensively. He’s a three-time All Star with two Gold Glove awards and a Platinum Glove award, and he also has three top-10 finishes in the American League MVP race. But is renting a player, albeit one of the best players in the league, just for the remainder of the season worth the price?

The Chicago Cubs have made it apparent that they would be interested in Machado, although team president Theo Epstein said in an interview with WSCR-AM 670 that, “As a rule, we will not be paying premiums for rentals. We just won’t. It’s hard to build an organization that way.’’ But what if they could get him without paying too much? The longer Machado stays an Oriole, the lower his price will get as teams will have less time to use him with his contract expiring at the end of the season. The Cubs are only 1.5 games back in an extremely tight NL Central division, and slapping Machado in their lineup between Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo may give them the offensive firepower to put them over the top. If they have to weaken their starting rotation to do it however, the means may not justify the end.

Another potential landing spot is the New York Mets. The Mets are 6-10 in May after starting 17-9 in April. They definitely need something or someone to boost them back into contention in the NL East. Their current struggles are mainly on offense. They rank 23rd in the league in batting average, 21st in home runs, 27th in doubles, 29th in hits, and 26th in runs scored. Machado could step in and add both power and consistency to their lineup. The Mets have already made one trade acquiring catcher Devin Mesoraco from the Cincinnati Reds, but Machado is a game changer and any pitcher would be a lot more intimidated with him in the lineup.

Teams generally don’t enjoy paying for rentals, even for All Stars like Machado. But if the Orioles don’t find a way to ship Machado and get something in return, it could be disastrous for their franchise. Adam Jones is also set to become a free agent after this season as well as Zach Britton. The Orioles need to understand that Machado’s value is decreasing with each passing day.