As I wrote yesterday, Manny Machado’s trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t signal an end to rumors about his future, just a see you soon.
Apparently, it’s soon.
Though it’s certainly feasible that Machado’s time in Los Angeles goes so well that the two sides try to reach a long-term agreement this offseason, there would be a lot of moving parts. While Justin Turner will be 34 in November, he’s one of the most popular Dodgers in recent memory. He’s also owed $37 million over the next two seasons, so it’s unclear how realistic trading him would be, even if the Dodgers were willing to. Machado has made clear that he wants to remain at shortstop long-term, but Corey Seager is set to return from Tommy John surgery next season. The Dodgers could attempt to move him to third, though he’s graded out as a significantly better fielder at shortstop than Machado. They may also not be eager to move him to a new position coming off of a major surgery.
In any event, it appears as though Machado will at least be in play in free-agency this offseason. On one hand, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia says that Machado prefers to play on the East Coast long-term. On the other hand, the Phillies may not be his No. 1 choice on the East Coast:
Machado might end up loving Los Angeles and look to stay there. But, for now, he looks like just a short-term fit with the Dodgers, who lost shortstop Corey Seager to injury and are desperate to win a World Series with a ripe core. Machado is from Miami. He has told friends that he wants to play on the East Coast with a team that has spring training in Florida. He has “a thing” for the Yankees so they will be a team to watch.
Prior to the Home Run Derby, Machado’s nephew, with him at his side, told Pedro Martinez on MLB Network that if his uncle was traded, he wanted his uncle to be traded to the Yankees. That obviously didn’t happen, though it may have been a slip-up from someone too young to know any better.
Jon Heyman, writing for FanRag Sports, noted this past offseason that the Yankees were viewed as “practically a slam dunk in some quarters” to land Machado this offseason. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale added that Machado “would like to be on center stage in a big market.” It’s not a secret that Machado is interested in playing for his former division rival and the Yankees have at least some level of mutual interest.
When Machado reaches free-agency, the biggest question will be just how interested Brian Cashman and the Yankees are. The Yankees showed interest in Machado earlier this month, with George A. King III of The New York Post noting that after it originally appeared they wouldn’t, the Yankees did include some top-10 prospects in their offer for Machado. But by most accounts, the Yankees weren’t one of the finalists for Machado. They maybe finished in the top five, but as Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported earlier the week, they were out of the sweepstakes before the Orioles began working with final suitors to complete a deal.
King’s colleague Joel Sherman added an interesting caveat on the Yankees interest in Machado:
They [the Yankees] saw Machado as a difference-making elite player on both sides of the ball as long as he was playing third base, not shortstop.
Machado has gone from grading out as the best fielding third baseman in baseball between 2012 to 2017, to the worst qualified fielding shortstop in 2018. But shortstop is his natural position, and he’s said that’s where he plans to play in the future.
The Yankees currently have Didi Gregorius at shortstop, and he’s under contract for 2019. Gleyber Torres, only 21, was an All-Star at second base, but can also play shortstop. And the Yankees have Miguel Andujar at third base, a 23-year-old that hasn’t graded out well as a fielder, but has been impressive offensively in his rookie year. So adding Machado would be a luxury, not a necessity for the Yankees. With their current lineup – one that includes the aforementioned cast of characters, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez – the Yankees could win a World Series. They may this season. We’ll see if they’re willing to outspend the Phillies this offseason with that in mind.