Well, that was quite a turn of events.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are now the team expected to land Machado from the Baltimore Orioles with a handful of prospects being sent back to Baltimore. As you can guess, the Orioles are apparently more interested in the prospects involved in the Dodgers deal than the Phillies were willing to offer, which is why the Dodgers have flown in to pass the Phillies in the pursuit of Machado.
The trade has not been made official as of this post, but it could go down today. Until the deal is finalized, the Phillies (and apparently the Brewers) still have a chance to make something happen. With the Phillies reportedly unwilling to part with pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, it is probably unlikely the Phillies will be able to step in and regain control of the Machado deal with the Orioles. Regardless of when the deal becomes official, the Phillies are left going to review Plan B after not being able to land Machado.
So, what is Plan B?
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com says the Phillies do have their eyes on some other options that could help out with the offense. The Phillies are also reportedly interested in some pitching options, because you really cannot have enough pitching if you are going to make a playoff push.
Among the names to keep an eye on for the offense, according to Zolecki, are Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Minnesota Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar. Neither player is Machado, but either player would likely provide at least a little boost to the offense. Of the two, Escobar may be the more desirable option given his ability to play shortstop at this time. Like Machado, both players could be rentals with contracts expiring at the end of the 2018 season (Moustakas actually has an option for 2019 for $15 million if the Phillies were interested in keeping him; he can be bought out for $1 million). Neither player would likely to demand the same kind of talent pool that a deal for Machado might have drawn, so the Phillies would certainly be able to offer a decent return if a deal were to be made.
There are other players to watch too, including Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. But with Maikel Franco possibly warming up, what do the Phillies feel is the best move? Shortstop is the position that needs the biggest upgrade for right now (long term it still may be fine if/when J.P. Crawford is healthy and Scott Kingery continues to grow).
The idea of bringing Cole Hamels home from the Texas Rangers has been one that has been discussed by fans, but Hamels has struggled a bit this season so the Phillies may not be as interested as some fans. However, one has to wonder if a return to a Phillies uniform might be good for Hamels. Another pitcher that may have a better shot of returning to Philly might be Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ, who was once traded to Toronto in a deal to bring Roy Halladay to the Phillies.
And there may still be a deal to make with Baltimore for reliever Zach Britton, who could solidify the closer situation for the Phillies. Adding Britton to the back of the bullpen would improve the entire bullpen if manager Gabe Kapler caves to some conventional baseball thinking by assigning a definite closer in Britton and allowing a pitcher like Seranthony Dominguez to be established as the setup man, thus reducing the workload Anthony would have to shoulder in the second half. After missing out on Machado, it would be unfortunate for the Phillies to not be able to get Britton.
The trade deadline is still a couple of weeks away, and the Phillies will take on the role of buyer as they open the second half of the season a half-game up in the NL East. How much they are willing to mortgage remains the biggest question with many deals potentially worth considering.
And after the season, the Phillies could be a big-time spender, which could eventually land Machado anyway unless the Dodgers can convince him to stay.