Cubs Trade Rumors: Chicago Fading from Picture as Machado Talks Accelerate

Good news, everyone, you only have 28 days at the most to hear about the possibility of Manny Machado being traded to the Cubs. Though if things continue on the fairly obvious trend that has been established ever since Theo Epstein called the Machado rumors an “outrageously outsized…spasm of media frenzy,” you may not hear much more about the Cubs’ involvement at all.

Well, at least not until November, when logs are going to be chucked into the hot stove ad infinitum as we wait to hear about the destinations of Machado and Bryce Harper. Fun times!

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required/recommended), “The pace of the talks has accelerated in recent days” as the Orioles realize that will get a bigger return if they trade Machado earlier. Well, pardon my French, but no s—. You know what would have netted an even better haul? Trading him last winter rather than worrying about handcuffing possible partners in a deal.

C’est la vie when dealing with Peter Angelos, I guess.

Once thought to be hot and heavy after the slugging shortstop, the Cubs have faded from the picture as their needs have shifted. Not only is the offense surging of late, but Addison Russell has been a huge part of that. In the midst of what could well be the best season of his career, Russell seemed to turn it on just as the trade rumors crescendoed.

Since May 15 (142 plate appearances), Russell is slashing .320/.376/.453 with a .358 wOBA and 124 wRC+ that includes four of his five homers on the season. And he’s done it primarily from the bottom third of the order, providing punch to keep the train rolling at a time when you’d normally expect it to slow down.

When he was slumping earlier in the season, the commentary on the trade centered mainly around Machado’s superior offense making up for his defensive shortcomings. But with Russell’s bat surging, it’s hard to imagine the soon-to-be-former Oriole somehow making up a 30-run gap in defensive runs saved.

Of course, the stats aren’t the only thing to consider when we discuss the matter of a trade involving Russell. There are a not-insignificant number of fans who’d like to see him moved for personal reasons, and that is something that may factor into his future in Chicago.

Without as much of a need or desire to make such a splashy move at this point, however, it’s unlikely the Cubs would meet the Orioles’ price or that they could compete with hungrier teams. Rosenthal names the Diamondbacks and Indians as being the most motivated to acquire Machado, with the Phillies, Dodgers, and even Brewers all doing their due diligence.

The latter team seems an unlikely fit at this point, but that possibility would obviously have a direct impact on the Cubs. And while the others would affect them less so, having Machado in the NL would make a fourth straight championship series that much more difficult to reach.

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, expect a few more twists and turns in this story in the days to come.

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