Hearing the name “Manny Machado” in Philadelphia is becoming more common by the day. Machado made headlines last week in the NLCS when he said he wouldn’t ever be “Johnny Hustle” shortly before kicking Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar as he ran to first base.
Afterward, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury wrote that some in the Phillies organization were starting to grow worried about possibly signing the superstar shortstop, who will hit free agency after the World Series ends.
However, Fancred’s Jon Heyman seems to think the opposite regarding Phillies brass:
The Phillies have been viewed as a likely pursuer of Manny Machado. But people who follow such things are noticing that Machado is getting killed on Philly sports stations; the city that’s heavy on blue collar (plus a few blue bloods) apparently doesn’t appreciate his postseason antics, especially the one where he admitted he isn’t “Johnny Hustle.”
So could Philly shy away? It appears not. Phillies people know — and seem to love — Machado. They want to win, they have resources, and they have also noticed that there is a high correlation between spending and winning.
Those “Phillies people” Heyman refers to could be major players in the organization such as president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak. Both were in the Orioles organization when Machado was drafted back in 2010, meaning they know the player and his skill set well.
The Phillies previous interest in Machado is well documented. During July the club was repeatedly rumored to have been engaged with the Baltimore Orioles regarding a trade involving Machado.
One report by MLB.com’s Jon Morosi at that time said that the Phillies were offering Adonis Medina, who is ranked as their second highest prospect by some. A trade never went through, and Machado was instead sent to the Dodgers. The fact that the Phillies were ready to offer one of their most valuable prospects, however, clearly shows the front office’s feeling for Machado.
While Machado’s statements and actions during the postseason will surely rub some people the wrong way, one can’t deny the incredible statistics that the 26-year-old has put up so far in his career. In seven seasons, Machado has hit 175 home runs, driven in 513 RBIs, put up a .282 batting average and has accumulated a 33.8 bWAR. He is also a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner.
The Phillies do understand winning can sometimes come with a cost. They don’t have to look for examples of this any further than about two to three hours north, where the New York Yankees are famous for shelling out big paydays for sometimes controversial players.
The two teams currently playing in the World Series, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, have payrolls of $228 million and $199 million respectively, according to Spotrac. Even the Phillies themselves are familiar with this route, having given lucrative contracts out to players like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, and others during their 2007 through 2011 contending years.
While building talent through an organization’s farm system is generally the favored way of getting to a championship level, free agency should be by no means frowned upon. While Machado could possibly command $300 million or more (or less, depending on who you might ask) on the market, his skills are likely worth every penny, and the Phillies realize that.
With the team having taken a step forward this past season, one could argue that now might be the time to start supplementing their own homegrown young talent with proven free agents or trade acquisitions in order to help them take that next step.
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