I was asked to be on a radio show last night to talk about the baseball draft. This despite telling the host up front that I know next to nothin’ about the draft. When I pressed the guy for an answer on which way he wanted to go with it, he said that he wanted to do a “winners and losers” style thing, in which I make some sort of pronouncement about who “won the draft.”
I have no idea how to answer that, so I declined the invite. There are people who do know a lot about amateur players and even they struggle with it. Jonathan Mayo is one of those experts, and he has an article up over at MLB.com today in which he talks to scouts who — after all of the “it’s hard to predict the future” caveats were offered — suggested that the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Rays did the best. Their drafts, as well as the Padres and the Red Sox, who were also said to have done well, are analyzed.
There is a lot of good information to be gained in that sort of exercise. But still, I keep coming back to an article Kevin Goldstein wrote over at Baseball Prospectus yesterday in which he listed off a ton of superstars whose selections in the first round were mocked. Joe Mauer. Adrian Gonzalez. Prince Fielder. There are a lot of those kinds of guys.
I don’t want to throw my hands up in the air, plead draft agnostic and say “we can’t know!” because, sure, we can know an awful lot if we bother to learn about amateur players (which I admittedly haven’t). But it seems like a tall order to make any pronouncements like the radio host wanted to have someone make. And I suppose the inability to make that kind of stark judgment — that need to know something right now about what just happened — is one of many reasons why the baseball draft will never be as big a media event as the NFL’s and NBA’s.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Good things come to those who wait.
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.