The trade rumors regarding Manny Machado should only heat up in the coming weeks. The free-agent-to-be is arguably playing the best baseball of his career, while the Baltimore Orioles are virtually out of the pennant race in mid-May.

According to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs could be the next team that makes a play for the shortstop. Sources have told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the team will look at making a trade for Machado. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer wrote that the Cubs expect to talk to the Orioles when Baltimore decides to further explore their trade options.

It feels like only a matter of time before the Orioles decide to part ways with their best player. Machado likely won’t return for the 2019 season as he looks to sign a contract in the offseason that could be worth well over $300 million. He isn’t going to help them win this year since they are already buried in last place in the AL East.

Baltimore’s 13-30 record has them 16.5 games behind the New York Yankees for first place and 7.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for fourth place in the division. The Orioles are on pace to win fewer than 50 games, and only the Chicago White Sox have a worse record.

The return for Machado would only be so much because he’d essentially be a rental. The 25-year-old will test free agency this winter, though it’s possible a team that acquires him would have an advantage in signing him.

Chicago was one of nine teams that discussed a possible deal for Machado with Baltimore this past winter, according to Heyman. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported that the Cubs offered to trade Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr. and Mike Montgomery.

Manny Machado Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 17, 2018 in Boston. Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

There were rumors that the White Sox might be the frontrunners to land Machado when it looked like the Orioles would trade the shortstop in December. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox were among the teams that had trade discussions with Baltimore. The Yankees checked in on Machado’s availability, as well.

A few weeks ago, Los Angeles appeared to be the most logical landing spot for Machado. Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager is done for the season with an injury, though L.A. might have to prove they are real contenders before the front office looks to make a trade for a player that’s going to hit free agency. After reaching Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers are nine games under .500 more than a quarter of the way into the 2018 season.

Chicago could be in a fight to win the NL Central all season long. Their 22-18 record has them sitting in fourth place, but they are just 2.5 games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.

Machado leads the majors with 14 home runs and 40 RBI. He has splits of .339/.418/.661, ranking in the top-five in the American League in all three categories.