Report: New York Yankees have 'increased interest' in Orioles superstar Manny Machado

Manny Machado is arguably the most talented and valuable asset up for grabs on the trade market this season, and it appears the New York Yankees might be considering a blockbuster deal for the 26-year-old infielder and four-time All-Star.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Monday evening that the Yankees have re-entered the fray to acquire Baltimore's superstar slugger, even though both sides don't "appear close" to anything quite yet.

"Such a deal might not happen before the All-Star Game a week from Tuesday," Rosenthal wrote, "but according to major-league sources, the Yankees are showing increased interest in Machado, the biggest prize in this year's trade market."

Prevailing wisdom suggests that teams don't typically execute deals of this potential magnitude between clubs in their own division, but with the Orioles in free-fall and the Yankees farm system overflowing with Major League-ready talent, perhaps conditions are just right for such a convention-defying transaction.

Machado, who turned just 26 years old on July 6, has perennially been one of the most talented two-way players in the sport, earning his fourth All-Star selection in his last six seasons this year. He's off to his best start of any season in his career so far this year, but as the Orioles front office continues to delay what seems to be an inevitable trade of their franchise player, his potential return will continue to dwindle.

In 90 games this season, Machado has posted a career-best OPS+ of 157 while slashing .309/.379/.555 along with 21 home runs and 60 RBI. He's finished in the top-ten in MVP voting three times already in his seven-year MLB career, and is widely considered one of the game's elite defensive infielders, whether he's at third base or shortstop.

The Yankees and Orioles met for a double-header in Baltimore on Monday, the O's taking game one 5-4 and the Yanks game two by a score of 10-2, but both teams and their respective scouting departments were likely eyeing the coveted assets that each team currently possesses.

Yankees rookie third baseman Miguel Andujar has emerged as one of the most promising young players in the league, but concerns about his defense still hound him even though he has made up for those shortcomings with his bat. Additionally, Machado has held firm that he is only interested in playing shortstop for the foreseeable future, but many insiders believe that he would reconsider if it meant playing for the Yankees.

Machado wore number 13 in high school and continues to do so in the Majors to honor his childhood idol and former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod was notably forced to make a similar move from shortstop to third base when he became a Yankee, and perhaps Machado will face the same choice this season.

Machado would offer yet another All-Star caliber righty slugger for the Yankees if he were to eventually land in the Bronx, something most baseball insiders and fans would agree is not the biggest priority for New York at this time. However, with the loss of Gary Sanchez to a groin injury and Boston's lefty-heavy starting rotation, Machado could be the player that pushes the Bombers over the top and onto their 19th AL East crown in franchise history.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported recently that the Yankees might consider a package deal for Machado that included a relief pitcher like Zach Britton, as this year's market for starting pitchers hasn't materialized into anything overly enticing. The cost for an ace is too high, and the alternative options may not be enough to supercharge New York's rotation the way they'd like, so there is a chance the Yankees front office is looking to get creative.

Machado will be one of the most coveted free agents when the offseason begins, and there's no doubt the Yankees would be keen to keep him around for the long haul, even if that meant having to shift their infield configuration around and make some difficult roster moves to accommodate that.

Would Miguel Andujar be part of the Machado deal to Baltimore? Would the Yankees trade him elsewhere to make room? Would Didi Gregorius have to forfeit shortstop? What would become of Brandon Drury? These are the tough choices and decisions on the horizon for the Yankees if a deal for Baltimore's standout slugger ever came to fruition.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Machado, who will continue to languish on one of the worst teams in baseball until his fate becomes clear.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made some surprising and splashy deals that no one could've predicted (hello Giancarlo!) and perhaps he has another blockbuster in store to help the Yankees on their way to a 28th World Series championship.