Trading For Manny Machado Was The Right And Necessary First Move For Dodgers
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When rumors intensified on Monday and Tuesday about the Los Angeles Dodgers trading for the Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado, the reaction among fans was… mixed.

Among the usual dialogue on social media, there were statements like:

Why are the Dodgers trading for a hitter when they need pitching?

Why woudld they give up Yusniel Diaz, the No. 4 prospect in their system per MLB Pipeline, along with four other Minor Leaguers for a rental whose contract expires after this season?

Why are they doing this for someone who has awful defensive metrics at shortstop?

Even longtime L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, the patron saint of the old school L.A.-needs-stars mentality, voiced his concerns about adding Machado.

I can understand the hesitance. It seems out of character for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi to trade a prospect as valuable as Diaz, who just hit two home runs in the Futures game, for a rental such as Machado.

If any trade deadline target is worth it, though, it’s Machado. He has the potential to be the biggest midseason addition to the Dodgers since 10 years ago, when another Manny wound up in Dodger Blue.

In 2008, the Dodgers were also a good-not-great team in the middle of a tight National League West race. Then Manny Ramirez practically fell into their laps right before the trade deadline and promptly lit the team and city on fire.

Ramirez hit .396/.489/.793 with a 221 OPS+ for the rest of the season and the Dodgers won their first playoff series in two decades. To this day, “Mannywood” holds a special place in the hearts of all fans who witnessed that incredible run.

Machado has the potential to be that kind of hero for the 2018 Dodgers. The team’s offense is solid, ranking among the top 10 in most metrics. However, it is not amazing, either.

Corey Seager has been lost for the season, and Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig are battling injury issues of their own. That means three of the top offensive contributors to the 104-win 2017 Dodgers cannot be counted to to shoulder the same load in 2018.

Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger are both still above-average hitters, but also have not reached the same level they did a year ago.

Matt Kemp deserved his start in the 2018 All-Star game, but age might finally be starting to catch up with him. Over his last 25 games, Kemp is hitting .232 with a .655 OPS. Take out a couple big games in the beginning of July and he’s 11 for his last 73.

Max Muncy might not stop hitting home runs, but even he cannot carry the Dodgers’ offense alone.

Machado, meanwhile, is a fire-breathing hitting machine. He currently ranks No. 12 on FanGraph’s wins above replacement leaderboard, even with his negative defense factored in. No other Dodger places in the top 50.

Machado sports a .315/.387/.575 slash line and a 164 OPS+. He accomplished as much on the worst team in baseball. A player like that changes the entire complexion of a contender.

Suddenly, the left side of the Dodgers’ infield has a superstar again. The Dodgers’ positional versatility allows Taylor to slide to second base, Muncy to first and Bellinger to take over as the everyday center fielder. When Turner returns, there is suddenly no room for Logan Forsythe and his 56 OPS+.

Diaz was one of my personal favorite prospects in the Dodgers’ farm system. He would also have to crack an outfield with Bellinger, Puig, Kiké Hernandez, Joc Pederson and eventually Alex Verdugo all on rookie contracts ahead of him. The franchise can live without him. None of the other prospects traded to Baltimore cracked the Dodgers’ top 20.

Does the deal weaken the Dodgers’ assets to get some desperately needed help for their bullpen? Absolutely. The team needs to do something to boost a unit currently posting a 3.80 ERA and 3.99 FIP.

However, the Dodgers still have a deep farm system. The current front office has also done fairly well with smaller bullpen trades in the past, such as for Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani.

Of course there are some negatives for this move, but that should not stop Dodgers fans from seeing the far greater positives. The Dodgers just added one of baseball’s brightest stars for their playoff push.

More trades will come, but for now, Mannywood 2.0 is here. Buckle up.