Twitter is abuzz with the sound of Manny Machado trade propositions.
There's no harm in that. It's everybody's right as a sports fan to come up with their own ideas for trades — no matter how crazy — and debate proposals with other fans.
But not all trade ideas are equal, of course.
In his recent column for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal came up with a package for the top teams in baseball to acquire superstar infielder Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles.
From a Cubs perspective, Rosenthal suggests a package of Addison Russell, Mike Montgomery and a prospect for Machado.
Russell-for-Machado straight up is enough to give me pause, but I can at least wrap my head around why that might make sense for the Cubs.
Adding Montgomery and a prospect, however, pushes the trade over the edge into "no way" territory if all the Cubs are getting back is Machado.
For starters, Machado is set to be a free agent after the 2018 season and right now, seems intent on exploring the open market. Why wouldn't he want to? He won't get a $400 million contract like Bryce Harper may be reeling in, but Machado is still one of the very best players in baseball and should be able to fetch $200 million if he so desired.
Any Cubs trade for Machado would signal some sort of all-in notion for 2018 and prompt "World Series or Bust" expectations.
Why would the Cubs need to go that route and feel such urgency? They're positioned to contend for at least the next three years, but the championship window is probably open longer than that.
The Cubs have been viewing a 7-year stretch of contention for years and discussed that same notion just last week at the MLB Winter Meetings. 2018 only represents Year 4 of that 7-year stretch.
Yes, the Cubs gave up Gleyber Torres (a Top 5 prospect in the game), Adam Warren (a useful swingman arm) and a pair of minor-leaguers for only a half-season of Aroldis Chapman 18 months ago, but that helped end the 108-year championship drought and the 2016 team was just one piece (a dominant closer) away from going over the hump.
The 2018 Cubs are not only one piece away from climbing over the hump if that's the package it takes to acquire Machado.
It would create a short-term pitching need, as Montgomery is currently slated for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Even if the Cubs add another starter, Montgomery is the first guy up if there is an injury to any of the five rotation arms and in the mean time, he's a very valuable bullpen arm as both a long man and in shorter outings.
Oh yeah, and Montgomery is not a free agent until after the 2021 season.
A Russell-for-Machado straight-up swap would make more sense, but still not an ideal situation for the Cubs' long-term plans.
If you sat here and told Cubs fans in December 2016 that their favorite team would deal Russell in a package for just one year of Machado, they'd probably laugh. And that was when Machado was coming off back-to-back years of Top 5 finishes in AL MVP voting.
Now both players are coming off down years, though they're still so young (Machado turns 26 in July; Russell turns 24 in January).
Russell has not yet lived up to his potential, but he's also only been in the league three years and last season was marred by a foot injury and off-field issues.
It's worth noting Machado needed three big-league seasons before he became the player he is today.
Here are Machado's stats after his third MLB season (2014):
354 plate appearances
2.3 WAR (Fangraphs)
And here are Russell's stats after his third MLB season (2017):
385 plate appearances
1.4 WAR (Fangraphs)
Machado is still clearly the better player and he was only 21 in his third season, but it helps illustrate the fact it took him several seasons before he realized his potential, too.
Getting rid of Russell right now would be selling low on a player who was considered one of the top young stars in the game just one year ago.
Dealing Russell — who is under team control for the next four seasons — for only one guaranteed year of a Top 10 player is a great short-term move, but doesn't hold the same appeal long-term.
There is something to be said for auditioning Chicago and the Cubs' young core to Machado as the team tries to work out an early extension, but I guarantee he knows all about both factors even though he's playing his home games in Baltimore.
The Cubs sell themselves right now and the organization surely would have a lot to offer Machado next winter once he hits the open market. And if they wanted to deal Russell before then, they could do so to fill other long-term needs on the roster.