Manny Machado and the Chicago Cubs have been linked to each other for months now. Theo Epstein and the Cubs were rumored to be one of the most aggressive teams in trade talks with the Baltimore Orioles during the offseason. New rumors have come out over the past few weeks that the Cubs still view acquiring Machado ahead of the trade deadline as their top priority.
Epstein was recently asked in an interview with The Score about the Machado rumors. His answer will not be what Cubs’ fans were hoping to hear, as he all but shoots down the rumors of a potential trade.
“It’s May. We’re still figuring out who we are as a team this year. We’re still figuring out our place in the division. Our play will determine that. And we’re still figuring out the important task of trying to play up to our ability and to overachieve rather than underachieve. That’s where this thing really begins and ends. There’s an atypical amount of trade discussion in May this year, which is essentially nil. I understand it’s natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it’s honestly something we’re looking at and just rolling our eyes at. It’s not like July, where every now and then there’s lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen. This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point.”
The Cubs still could identify Machado as being the piece that they need to compete for another title. He would certainly fix the issues that Chicago has from an inconsistency standpoint at the plate from the shortstop position. Losing Addison Russell would be a tough pill to swallow defensively, however.
Throughout the 2018 MLB season thus far, Machado has a .324 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 45 RBI’s. Very few Cubs players are capable of putting up the numbers that Machado can. Chicago could use a talent like Machado in the lineup alongside Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo.
All of that being said, Chicago will have some decisions to make ahead of the trade deadline. Do they think that Russell is their future at shortstop? Is acquiring a shortstop that could leave in free agency after the 2018 season really something that they want to risk?
Joe Maddon and company believe that they can compete with their current roster. While that would be ideal, the Cubs have lost some games that should have been wins. They are also in a tough battle in the NL Central with both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Expect to continue hearing the Cubs being mentioned as a suitor for Machado. As the deadline draws closer, Epstein’s tune could change. Chicago wants another World Series title and acquiring Machado could help them accomplish that goal.
It would also not be a surprise if this is a smokescreen, as Epstein would not want other teams knowing that the Cubs are pursuing Machado.