The Cubs are in for a fight this season in the National League Central.
Like any fight, the Cubs would like to stack the deck in their favor as they try to reach a second World Series in the last three years. Currently, the Cubs are 22-18, fourth in the division.
Guys like shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Jason Heyward have produced little offensively, leaving Joe Maddon and Co. in need of some lineup reinforcements before the July 31 trade deadline.
According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are interested in Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, and may make a move to acquire him.
Machado, a free agent after the season, found his name briefly on the trade block this offseason. Baltimore decided to hang on to him, but its currently in contention for the worst record in baseball, making it unwise to keep Machado when he’s unlikely to re-sign with them after the season.
The Cubs need another consistent bat to team with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber have shown flashes this season, but another star would make Chicago a legitimate World Series contender.
While the Cubs appear in on Machado, they will certainly have competition. Teams dealing with injuries like the Nationals and Dodgers (they lost shortstop Corey Seager for the season) may make a run at Machado, too.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler recently sung Machado’s praises, and Philadelphia’s weakness is at shortstop which could be make it an intriguing option should it remain in the playoff hunt.
The Cubs have basically gutted their farm system in recent years trying to gain extra pieces in July, but Ben Zobrist’s ability to play second base could put Ian Happ on the table in a move for Machado.
In general, the National League is ripe with intrigue (11 teams are .500 or above). The race for Machado is just one of many interesting storylines to follow this summer.