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New front-runners emerge in Manny Machado sweepstakes?

A new report from MLB insider John Morosi suggests two teams have emerged as potential front-runners in the Manny Machado sweepstakes.

“The two teams to watch for Machado I believe: the Cubs and the Indians,” Morosi said on FOX Sports 1’s “MLB Whiparound” Thursday night, via

Studio analysts Eric Karros and Frank Thomas the weighed in on all the Machado rumors, with the former suggesting the Atlanta Braves as a possibility and the latter suggesting his former team, the Chicago White Sox.

The Cubs have long been believed to be a team that would aggressively pursue the Baltimore Orioles shortstop, despite team president Theo Epstein colorfully downplaying any such notion earlier this week. The Indians, however, provide a new wrinkle in the rampant speculation.

Interestingly, the New York Yankees, a team that was said to be interested in Machado, reportedly is not likely to remain in the running, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The MLB insider also notes in his report that the Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” in Machado.

However, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette previously has indicated the team is likely holding out until after Memorial Day before making any final determination on how to proceed on Machado.

Heyman adds in his reporting that the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Cardinals and Diamonbacks are the likeliest front-runners when it comes to acquiring Machado, should the O’s make him available.

That said, it would come as somewhat of a surprise if the Orioles did not deal Machado ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Machado is set to hit free agency in 2018. With Baltimore boasting the second-worst record in baseball (16-34) and nowhere close to fielding a contending ball club anytime soon, exchanging Machado for significant assets instead of losing him for nothing next offseason arguably is the wisest course of action.