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USA Today’s Nightengale: ‘It’s worth it’ for D-backs to go after Machado

Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado sits in the dugout during the second inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale doesn’t see the harm in the Arizona Diamondbacks pursuing a trade for Baltimore Orioles infielder Manny Machado.

It’d only be a rental before Machado becomes one of the biggest free agent targets next offseason. Because of that, the reporter said Tuesday that the D-backs — or others — could nab Machado at a reasonable price.

“I think it’s worth it to go after him,” Nightengale told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I mean, it’s not going to cost nearly as much as people think. Remember now, they were shopping him during the winter — the Orioles never got an offer they really liked and that’s when you could’ve had him for the entire season and not just for the last half of a baseball season.

“Remember last year when the Diamondbacks got J.D. Martinez, people knew what kind of hitter Martinez was — they didn’t expect him to do what he did the second half — but I don’t think it’ll take a whole lot more than they gave up for Martinez to get Machado,” Nightengale added. “I don’t think it’s going to take a stud — a couple guys in their top-10 but nothing that’s going to hurt their future.”

Arizona parted with three young prospects — all of whom played at the Double-A level or lower — to acquire Martinez two weeks before the 2017 trade deadline. And it appears the team is at least thinking about pulling off a similar trade for a half-season rental.

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported last week that, since winter, the Diamondbacks had remained in contact with the Orioles about a potential Machado deal in conversations “viewed as due diligence.”

Speaking more generally after that report, D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye told Doug & Wolf the team was keeping all of its options open.

“In Manny Machado’s case, it’s up to the Baltimore Orioles. And anyone else’s case, their team decides on when they feel like they’re ready to pull the trigger,” Sawdaye said. “For us, we’re just going to do our due diligence on everybody out there.”

Arizona has little shot at re-signing Machado after this season considering its financial commitments, but acquiring such a bat would improve a less-than-productive offense as the D-backs ready for a postseason run in what Nightengale views as a less-than-spectacular National League field.

The Diamondbacks, after all, are tied with Baltimore with the worst batting average in the majors (.226) despite a strong month of June.

Defensively, Arizona leads MLB with a .991 fielding percentage and has a pitching staff ERA of 3.49, fifth-best in baseball. If the D-backs want to further build depth there, they could also attack the July 31 trade deadline looking for pitching, Nightengale said.

A lot depends on how starting pitchers Shelby Miller (UCL) and Robbie Ray (oblique) return from their respective injuries, and if veteran starter Clay Buchholz can return from his own oblique strain and provide a boost in any role.

Nightengale expects Miller to have an up-and-down year as he returns from Tommy John surgery, but Buchholz might provide insurance if the D-backs can find the space and the role to keep him around once he returns from the 10-day disabled list.

Otherwise, the trade market might be the place to look for action by Arizona.

“You still have that big drop-off after the top two guys in (Patrick) Corbin and Zack Greinke,” Nightengale said. “You really need one more big guy in that rotation. If not, you got to do it with your bullpen.

“They’ve done well with that bullpen, but maybe they go that route at the deadline — if they can’t get a starter, go get one more bullpen piece.”

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