Red Sox send Lugo to Cards for Duncan

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Because you can never trade for just one left-handed hitting, first
baseman-type with a career OPS in the low 800s whose father was a
former All-Star pitcher and whose brother is also a professional
baseball player.

Ever without the historical similarities, it is fascinating that the
Red Sox traded for two such similar players in one day in getting Chris
Duncan and Adam LaRoche. However, while LaRoche is coming over to play
a significant role down the stretch, Duncan is likely being looked at
strictly as insurance. It’s no secret that he’s hurting, and the
Cardinals had just optioned him to the minors. The Red Sox will likely
assign him to Triple-A Pawtucket until an injury opens up a spot.

This trade for Boston was more about getting rid of Julio Lugo. The
Mets appeared interested in signing him as a free agent, but the
Cardinals were willing to part with Duncan and a player to be named.
Duncan wouldn’t seem to have a role in Boston’s plans, but he’s more
depth for a team obsessed with it. The 28-year-old has hit
.257/.348/.458 in 1,147 major league at-bats. He got off to a great
start this year, hitting .304/.417/.522 in April, but he hadn’t done
much of anything since. He was 1-for-27 this month, giving him a season
line of .227/.329/.358.

Duncan is making $825,000 this year as a super-two player. He
probably won’t be due more than $1 million-$1.2 million in 2010, which
should give him some trade value. He’d be a nice platoon option at that
price.

Lugo figures to be just about free for the Cardinals, as the Red Sox
were willing to pick up most or all of the approx. $13.5 million he was
due through the end of next year. He will likely take the spot of the
newly recalled Brian Barden on the St. Louis roster and play behind
Brendan Ryan at shortstop. The Cards are sure to have him work out at
other positions as well, but since he hasn’t played anywhere besides
short since 2007, it could be some time before he’s an option at second
or third. Unfortunately, Lugo has displayed very little range
defensively since coming back from spring knee surgery. He may end up
outhitting Ryan, but he’d be an awfully weak regular unless his legs
come back.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.