Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale reacts to the news that Manny Machado will likely be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have waited 30 years for a World Series championship, coming just one game short a year ago, could have kept all of their prized prospects once again, and perhaps still had a chance to play in October.
It’s what they did a year ago, grabbing Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish instead of Detroit Tigers former MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, and still made it to Game 7.
This time, they weren’t willing to take that gamble.
They grabbed the greatest commodity on the trade market: Manny Machado.
Sure, it was hardly a giveaway, not when they had to part with five prospects, including outfielder Yusniel Diaz, a Cuban whom they paid $15.6 million to sign three years ago, and is tearing up Class AA Tulsa. The others: third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera.
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Yet, when you have riches greater than anyone in baseball, a deep farm system, a brilliant front office, and talented scouts, you can find the finest 1,000 prospects in the world, and they’ll never become the player of Machado.
When you have a chance to go for the gusto, and see how flawed the National League playoff landscape is this year, you don’t hesitate.
“You’ve got to love what the front office did,’’ Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said. “This front office shows us how much they really want to win a championship. They’re going for it.
“We have a great chance now. This team, you get to the playoffs, I like our chances. The National League is wide open compared to the American League.’’
The Dodgers are the new favorites in the NL. They don’t have to rely on Chris Taylor filling in for shortstop Corey Seager, who’s out for the year. They don’t have to gamble on whether veteran outfielder Matt Kemp will have a drop-off the second half. They don’t have to play Kike Hernandez every day.
Oh, sure, they still could use some bullpen help to assist Jansen late in games. Another starter could provide valuable depth in the rotation. Yet, when you got a chance to seize one of the greatest impact bats ever made available at the deadline, while keeping him away from your competition, you don’t hesitate.
“Obviously you put that bat in the middle of our lineup,’’ Dodgers All-Star pitcher Ross Stripling said, “it makes things pretty special.”
The Dodgers have their superstar, who is hitting .315 with 24 home runs, 65 RBI with a .963 on-base-plus slugging percentage.
Now, they all have a chance to be wearing a shiny, new, championship ring, too.