At this point, it feels like a given that Manny Machado will sign with the Yankees. He may be going on a little tour of the teams dumb enough to want him, but his pick, for whatever reason, is the Yankees, and has been even before the season ended. In July, his verified Instagram account ‘liked’ a fan photo of him wearing a Yankees uniform. When he was still with the Orioles, he wore number 13 because he idolized ARod growing up.
After his visit with them this week, reports say the team is equally enamored with the lazy free agent, and will likely offer him a deal in the 7-10 year, $300 million range. And unless another team is insane enough to offer him even more than that, Machado will be in Pinstripes in 2019.
Here are just a few of the reasons why the Yankees will sign him:
5. They’re prioritizing bat power over pitching power, partially because they don’t really have a choice.
The 2018 Yankees set a new MLB record for most home runs hit by a team in a single season. Their bullpen, on paper, was supposed to be better than or at least equal to Boston’s. And even though offensive production was their problem in the ALDS, their primary weakness throughout the season and brief postseason was their starting rotation, with an aging Sabathia and a slumping Severino.
They attempted to ameliorate that midsummer by adding Blue Jays’ pitcher J.A. Happ to the mix, and while he went 7-0 in 11 regular season starts with a 2.69 ERA over 63.2 innings, he wasn’t exactly a miracle. JD Martinez lit him up in Game 1 of the ALDS, smacking a three-run homer off the pitcher in his first at-bat of the postseason. He allowed five runs before manager Aaron Boone removed him from the game in the third inning rather than let him face Martinez again.
In addition to trading for Mariners starter James Paxton, it seemed like the Yankees big moves this offseason was going to be to bolster their bullpen after losing Zach Britton and David Robertson to free agency, and to try for a better free-agent starter than Happ, who would be their fallback option. Only, none of the better starters wanted to join them. Patrick Corbin, a lifelong Yankees fan, went to the Nationals. Nathan Eovaldi, who’d once been a Yankee, decided to stay with the Red Sox. Even Clayton Kershaw, who was never really an option for the Yankees, opted to stay in Los Angeles, and will likely finish his career with his one and only team. So the Yankees really didn’t have many better options than to re-sign Happ to a two-year, $34 million contract with a vesting option for a third year.
Happ has expressed hope and excitement at the possibility of Machado joining the team, telling reporters, “I would certainly welcome that… he is an all-around superstar type of player… obviously, you would welcome any type of player like that on your team.”
Splitting the 2018 season between Baltimore and Los Angeles, Machado batted .297 with 14 stolen bases, 37 homers, and 107 RBIs. His .905 OPS was a new career-high. But not everyone succeeds when they move to big-market teams. Bronx Giancarlo Stanton certainly wasn’t the same player in 2018 as the Miami Stanton who hit 59 home runs and was NL MVP in 2017.
Machado might be electric in the Bronx, or he might suffer a serious power outage. Only time will tell.
4. They’re in the mood to exceed the luxury tax threshold
On Opening Day 2018, the Yankees clocked in at 10th on the list of highest payrolls in MLB; they’d been 3rd in 2017. In fact, the last time they were on top was all the way back in 2012.
Even with them taking on Giancarlo Stanton’s ridiculously bloated contract last winter, it feels like it’s been a while since they’ve been the biggest spenders in baseball. They lowballed Patrick Corbin, who ended up going to the Nationals, but if they’re signing Machado, it might signal a return to their stupidly spendthrift ways. Machado has been open about wanting a contract in the ballpark of 8-10 years with a $300 million price tag. In general, I am always against teams giving out lengthy, expensive contracts to players. It’s a big risk. But when it comes to this particular player and team, I say spend, spend, spend.
3. They’re ready to play dirty
Can you think of a player in baseball today whose name is more associated with dirty playing than Manny Machado? Over the years, he’s been involved in countless brawls, dirty spikings, and other attempts to injure opposing teams’ players, especially Boston’s. If the Yankees really want to get back at the Red Sox for kicking their asses so definitively in October, this is one sick way to do it, which brings me to the……….
At this point, the animosity between Manny Machado and the Red Sox has reached its crescendo. Or has it?
Putting Machado, a player who is so unlikable in his own right and who already has his own beef with the Sox, in pinstripes could make the rivalry more legit than we’ve seen in years. At this point, it’s really the only thing that can make him more unlikable, and since the Sox officially vanquished Aaron Boone this year, we can hone in on another target.
Machado has been in Boston’s sights for a while now. His dirty spiking Dustin Pedroia in the knee back in 2017 may or may not be the reason the veteran second baseman needed another surgery on the same knee last offseason. Pedroia downplayed it, telling reporters, ‘it certainly didn’t help.’
Machado attempted to pull the same move on Brock Holt – WHO WAS FILLING IN FOR PEDROIA – this summer. And then, ahead of the World Series, he had the nerve to come out and say that he’d ‘lost respect’ for the Red Sox organization, a bold statement, indeed. But he never backed up his talk, and struggled throughout the series until Chris Sale put him on his knee for the final out of the World Series. It was a perfect ending… for us. Suffice to say, he probably still doesn’t like us. We don’t like you, either, Manny.
1. They genuinely don’t care that he sucks as a person
This is the biggest one, and frankly, kind of shocking. Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees suck, and they always will, BUT they’ve had a lot of players over the years with intense work ethics who truly gave their all to the game. Names like Mariano and Jeter come to mind, and those players led them to some of the best seasons in franchise history; I’ll even begrudgingly say some of the best in MLB history.
It’s not exactly a phenomenon for a team to sign a free agent who then never lives up to expectations either due to injury or bad work ethic. I’m still recovering from Pablo Sandoval, after all. But what’s rare, even unheard of, is a team being willing to give a player a contract with ample prior knowledge that he has no intention of ‘hustling.’ Through his behavior, attitude, and words, Machado has given them every reason not to want him, and yet the Yankees are ready to ignore what is right in front of them. And not really for any appealing, standout reasons.
It’s somewhat surprising that they would be this interested in a man who openly stated that he ‘doesn’t hustle’ and has no plans to ever be the kind of player who does. For the amount of money you’re going to pay a player, don’t you want to be able to trust that they will give their all? And if they’re slumping, you’d at least want them to act like they feel bad about it and express a desire to do everything in their power to improve?
Manny Machado will end up with a big paycheck and a long contract. That much we know for sure. I’m confident it will be with New York. I also confident he’ll never earn his keep the way they naively hope he will. It’ll be entertaining as hell no matter what.
Photo: Yahoo Sports