Cubs' Theo Epstein Calls Manny Machado Trade Rumors 'Fantasy Land At This Point'

"It's honestly something we're looking at and just rolling our eyes," Epstein says.

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May 24, 2018 - 10:49 am
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein

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(670 The Score) The Cubs may end up beingquite involved on the trade market ahead of the non-waiver deadline on July 31, but for now, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein wants to make a point clear as it pertains to the frenzy surrounding Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado.

"I can say with regards to this particular spasm of media frenzy, it is outrageously outsized when you compare it to the reality of the situation," Epstein said.

Even for a media-savvy individual and three-time World Series architect of teams in big markets, Epstein has been taken aback by the fever pitch of conversation surrounding Machado, the 25-year-old three-time All-Star and MVP candidate who will hit the trade market soon as the Orioles flounder.

"It's May," Epstein said. "We're still figuring out who we are as a team this year. We're still figuring out our place in the division. Our play will determine that. And we're still figuring out the important task of trying to play up to our ability and to overachieve rather than underachieve. That's where this thing really begins and ends. There's an atypical amount of trade discussion in May this year, which is essentially nil. I understand it's natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it's honestly something we're looking at and just rolling our eyes at. It's not like July, where every now and then there's lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen. This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point."

Naturally given the Machado buzz, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has found himself amid trade rumors often. Without saying it explicitly, Epstein indicated he's talked to Russell to quell any concern about his future.

"If it’s just your standard speculation, I think we’ve trained our guys through media training that starts in the minor leagues, helping guys understand just like the landscape of Major League Baseball, that this is something they have to get through," Epstein said. "But if it’s hyper-focused on one player and if there’s essentially nothing to it, then I will take the opportunity to pull the player aside and talk to him. And I won’t say in this case whether I have or not, but you can probably tell from those characteristics that I just talked about whether I have or not."

After producing just one run while being swept in a short two-game series against the Indians, the Cubs have fallen to 25-21 and sit in fourth place in the NL Central, four games behind the Brewers. Epstein wants his team to figure itself out first before making any move.

"I only see value in deals that I think make us better for the short term in terms of helping us win a World Series and leave us in a good position in the long term as well -- or balancing those two, where the organization ultimately benefits," Epstein said.