The Chicago Cubs’ 2018 season is underway, and the Cubbies have not yet shown that they are capable of bringing another World Series trophy home to Chicago. However, with the core of talent on the team in the field and on the mound, the potential for this squad is limitless, and they have shown glimpses of greatness. If the Chicago Cubs find their stride, they very well may once again be World Series champions.
The lackluster start from Joe Maddon’s squad has caused some to raise concern over whether or not the current lineup would be able to repeat the magic Cubs’ fans witnessed in 2016.
Machado is undoubtedly an amazing player that would boost any squad he is inserted in to. However, he is simply not what the Cubs need right now.
Addison Russell has admittedly not been stellar for the Cubs this season. He has posted a .258 batting average with 11 RBIs and one home run in 44 games played so far this season. Those numbers will certainly not earn Russell an All-Star honor like he had in 2016. The quick solution would be to trade for Machado, and bench Russell for the majority of the remainder of the season while Machado fills in as a rent-a-star. It is easy to forget that despite Russell being an everyday starter for four seasons, he is still only 24 years-old. Russell will not be able to improve his play and develop as a player from the bench. While he could learn from one of the best fielders in the modern game, there is no teacher like experience. While Machado would be an instant upgrade from Russell, it would only be for the rest of the season when Machado will become an unrestricted free agent. It would be highly unlikely that the Cubs would offer Machado the type of deal he would be looking for in the off season, and retaining Machado would surely squash any hopes of also signing soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper. Russell will be under the Cubs control as long as they agree to an arbitration deal until 2022 when he will become an unrestricted free agent.
The alternative would be less playing time for Javier Baez, that is if Baez is not part of the package the Cubs would be sending to Baltimore in exchange for the three-time All-Star. Javier Baez has been the best player for the Cubs this season, taking him out of the mix could cause a major disturbance in the lineup from an offense, defensive, as well as a mental standpoint. If there is one thing the Cubs undoubtedly have, it is team chemistry. This group of players get along exceptionally well and love playing together. A major trade could potentially cause rifts to develop in the locker room.
The Cubs’ front office has publicly and eminently denied the rumors of Machado making a move to Chicago. However, that does not always mean there is not something in the works behind the scenes. Front offices normally do not want the public to know all of their private business plans, so Epstein could be trying to throw the media off with his statement.
Machado is hitting at a blazing .328 batting average, as well as recording 44 RBIs and 15 home runs, and is well on his way to another All-Star season. He would surely provide an immediate boost to the North Siders both on the offensive and defensive end.
The most important question for the Cubs’ front office will be to weigh if giving up valuable assets would be worth it for a red-hot Machado for only one season.