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Manny Machado makes at least a little sense for the Giants, but it would be risky

An expensive rental doesn’t seem like the best use of the Giants’ resources, but let’s figure out the logic.

Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

I regret to inform you that Manny Machado is going to the Cardinals. That seems like an odd way to start a Machado-to-the-Giants rumor post, but it’s true. Do you remember that feeling of disappointment you felt when you realized that Marcell Ozuna was going to the Cardinals? Good, because you’re going to feel it again. The Cardinals have the prospects and the need, and there’s nothing the Giants can do about it.

But there’s still room to discuss the Giants being interested in Machado in the first place, so let’s hop to it. Here’s why it wouldn’t work:

  • Machado is a free agent after this year
  • It would take some of the Giants’ best prospects to get him
  • He wants to move to shortstop, which is a position that’s currently filled
  • But, no, seriously, this is one of those things where the Giants don’t have the prospects, and it’s going to frustrate you, so just let it go now

Here’s why it makes sense, though:

  • Machado is a right-handed slugger
  • He’s a brilliant defender
  • He doesn’t have the leverage to block a trade to a team that would use him at third, so that point doesn’t really mean much
  • He’s really, really good
  • The Giants would get an entire year to talk extension with him

It’s that last part that makes me think this makes more sense than it should. We know the Giants aren’t interested in spending millions and millions on stopgap players to reload the lineup, but we also know that they were willing to spend nearly $250 million on Giancarlo Stanton because he was a special case. The Giants are going to need some marketing muscle to go with the Mission Rock development, and they figured Stanton would be the type that could help with that over the next decade.

Machado would also be the type to help with that over the next decade, and if the Giants were interested in playing that much for Stanton, they might be interesting in paying $350 million for Machado. That total sounds ludicrous, and you’re not wrong. But don’t forget the last time the Giants made a superstar in his mid-20s the highest-paid player in the game.

The $43 million also is the largest total package ever given a baseball player, leapfrogging past the $32.5 million contract Cal Ripken and the Baltimore Orioles signed Aug. 24.

The Giants bested the previous top contract by nearly 25 percent, and the total sounded ludicrous then, too.

Manny Machado isn’t Barry Bonds yet, but he’s certainly the kind of player worth locking up for 10 years. If you want perspective, he was born four months before Austin Slater. He’s just a year older than Chris Shaw. He’s essentially the same age as a prospect, except he’s already a six-year veteran. Even when he has a down season, like last year, he’s an exceptional player. Assuming he hits at least 12 home runs next year, he’ll join a club of players with at least 150 career homers before their age-26 season that includes Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron, and Johnny Bench. And Bob Horner.

Still, Machado also fields like Brooks Robinson, so I’m guessing he’ll age as well as a lot of the players on the list. Everyone is going to want him next year. If he spent a year in San Francisco, he might be convinced to stay a decade. It’s a gamble, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

Imagine the Giants giving up Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw, Tyler Beede, and Chris Stratton for a year of Machado, only to lose 99 games and pick up a second-round pick for their troubles next year, though. What a hot mess that would be. And make no mistake, if the Giants are going to elbow their way into the Machado trade discussions, they’ll have to be prepared to lose a lot. This isn’t a player that a team can acquire if they have an untouchable prospect they’re not willing to deal, even if he’s just a rental.

Signing Machado next year would be something that I would advise, though. He’s the same age as Bryce Harper, but his right-handed power would play much better at AT&T, and I like his defensive fit, too. If the Giants are really hankering for a young superstar to market while the rest of the core declines, this is an excellent choice. And if they think that a year’s worth of exclusive negotiations would be their best chance of making it happen, I can’t fault the logic, even if it’s risky as all heck.

It wouldn’t be outlandish for the Giants to consider moving Brandon Crawford to third as he gets deeper into his 30s, and there’s a strong chance that Machado would be the better defender at short soon, if he isn’t already. If that sounds like blasphemy, you’re underrating just how amazing Machado is defensively at third. The Crawford/Machado conundrum isn’t something they would have to worry about now.

It’s probably not something they’ll ever have to worry about, considering that Machado is going to be traded to the Cardinals, who will sign him for the next 10 years. This will be an upsetting turn of events, and we won’t feel better until Giants beat them in an NLCS or three. But if you were wondering why they would consider a rental player, that’s why. He’s young enough to be around for the next good Giants team, and there sure aren’t a lot of players we can say that about right now.