ESPN’s Doolittle: D-backs among top teams in need of Manny Machado

Jul 13, 2018, 9:37 AM

Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado watches his two-run home run in the seventh inning of a baseball g...

Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado watches his two-run home run in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Diamondbacks need something.

It’s just a matter of debate what something Arizona should go after as the trade deadline looms at the end of July.

General manager Mike Hazen said Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf that the position player market remains unclear.

Add the recent injury to starting pitcher Shelby Miller’s elbow to the worn-out bullpen, and Hazen has a very good argument the D-backs should instead look to add a reliable pitcher — starter or reliever.

Count ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle among the crowd that believes Arizona should instead seek a trade for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, even if that means giving up prospects or players for a half-season rental of the soon-to-be free agent. Ranking 12 title contenders in terms of who needs Machado’s services most, Doolittle said the Diamondbacks are third.

The Diamondbacks’ run to the wild card last season probably would not have happened if not for Mike Hazen’s aggressive acquisition of J.D. Martinez. Lately it feels like the Snakes are barely hanging on and that a similar splash is needed. Otherwise, Arizona could watch the Dodgers, Giants and even the Rockies race past them in the NL West. This isn’t that young of a group. A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin will be free agents after the season and Paul Goldschmidt likely will be in the same spot next season. I’m not sure the Diamondbacks could win a bidding war for Machado, but he would be a massive upgrade at shortstop for them.

Previously, Doolittle ran 10,000 simulations to project Machado’s impact on every MLB team with the assumption that the infielder would be acquired by teams trading away only minor league players.

That exercise was surprising to Doolittle in how little Machado would help Arizona. The D-backs still ranked fifth in terms of how much he could help their championship odds. Doolittle’s calculation also projected that Machado would give Arizona 3.3 more wins, 13th-most in the majors.

Of course, things are more complicated than arguing that trading for Machado would drastically improve the team’s lineup. Few would debate that.

The Diamondbacks remain a pitcher short of a solid five-man rotation since Miller was placed on the disabled list Thursday with inflammation in his surgically repaired elbow. Arizona also lost lefty long reliever T.J. McFarland and his sneaky-good 1.81 ERA to a neck injury this week.

Veteran starter Clay Buchholz could potentially come off the disabled list out of the All-Star break to take Miller’s spot, but it’s not a guarantee he can keep up the strong performance (2-1 record, 2.56 ERA) that he’s put together through seven games. Fellow starter Matt Koch (5-4 record, 4.33 ERA) could also factor into the equation.

Arizona still might want to consider starting pitching options or long relievers on the open market.

Weigh that against improving an offense that’s been hot and cold, and it’s likely Hazen and the D-backs will have to make a choice.

Do they improve the lineup or the pitching staff, thereby putting faith in the other to steady itself?

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ESPN’s Doolittle: D-backs among top teams in need of Manny Machado