More trade talk

The teams jockeying for position in the Manny Machado sweepstakes aren’t hanging in one spot.

The Braves, for example, seem less inclined to make a serious run at him as the days pass. They were Top 5 a few weeks ago, but the list didn’t include the Yankees. And the Phillies, who were fourth, have moved past the Diamondbacks due to an increase in recent talks and depth of farm system.

The Dodgers haven’t gone away. Far from it.

Of course, these rankings aren’t based on a solid formula. It’s largely the perception of the team fielding the offers. But we live in a world where everything needs to be listed in a particular order.

Machado-Tip-Cap-Black-MD-Flag-Jersey-sidebar.jpgWord on the street is that the Braves just aren’t ready to part with top prospects for a Machado rental, despite their contender status. The Orioles want to keep them engaged because of the wealth of talent in the Braves system. MLB Pipeline ranked it second back in March.

In this instance, the Orioles seem to be the aggressors.

The Indians made an offer, but weren’t aggressive, and they appear to be more interested in relievers and perhaps center fielder Adam Jones.

I’m predicting that Zach Britton is traded before Machado if they aren’t packaged together, but I reserve the right to be wrong.

Should the Orioles push hard to group Machado and Britton in the same deal? One line of thinking is that the Orioles can turn it into a real blockbuster with this method. The other is that they can get more if trading the two individually. I’ve heard both sides of the argument from outside the organization.

It comes down to the offers and the needs of the teams. The Red Sox and Astros, for example, are more focused on Britton, but the Phillies have legitimate interest in both of them.

Reliever Mychal Givens was a hot commodity at the Winter Meetings, with lots of teams checking on his availability and coming away with the impression that he wasn’t on the table. He’s still drawing interest from multiple clubs, and while no one is untouchable, the preference remains in the organization to hold onto him.

Please do not gloss over “no one is untouchable.” Fans were crushing the organization yesterday on social media for holding onto “a mediocre reliever” and other unflattering descriptions, as if I’m suggesting that no offer would pry Givens from the Orioles.

Givens could project as a future closer, he’s under team control through 2021 and somebody needs to get outs in the bullpen. And mediocre relievers don’t usually go 8-1 with a 2.75 ERA, 1.042 WHIP and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, as Givens did in 2017. But he could be moved if he’d bring back a piece that the Orioles covet.

The month of July has been kinder to Givens. He hasn’t allowed a run in five outings, with only two hits, no walks and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings to lower his ERA from 4.81 to 4.28.

“Mychal very quietly, the last four or five outings, has been really good,” said manager Buck Showalter.

Depending on which report you believe, the Orioles are dragging their feet and too deliberate or focused and making serious progress. I read both on the same day.

I know that talks are ongoing with several clubs, and they’re motivated to make deals. They’re not stalling.

It’s just going to take the right package of prospects. They haven’t reached the point of feeling pressure to settle.

Note: Former Orioles pitcher Steve Johnson, son of former Orioles pitcher and current MASN analyst Dave Johnson, has retired from baseball. He was pitching for the independent Lancaster Barnstormers.

Johnson, 30, went 6-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 43 major league games, the first 27 with the Orioles. The St. Paul’s graduate last pitched in the majors with the Mariners in 2016 and spent 2017 with Triple-A Norfolk and Charlotte.

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