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Salisbury: Some in Phillies organization prefer staying clear of Machado

Machado becoming a problematic free agent decision for Phillies and other clubs (Ian D’Andrea/Wikimedia Commons)

For Manny Machado there are a number of things going right at present. His team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are one win away from the World Series. He is in line for a mega-deal this off-season.

Unfortunately, not everything is golden. Machado made some recent comments about his own lack of hustle that have some in the game concerned.

Machado told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that “I’ve never given excuses for not running. I’m not hurt, there’s no excuse, but I’ve been the same player.

Machado continued, implying that he feels it’s somewhat pointless to hustle when seeing a ground ball is already in the glove of a player. Summing it up, Machado said he is not a ‘Johnny Hustle.’

As could be expected, these bold statements from Machado have sparked internal debates with the many teams that will be interested in his services this winter.

Among those teams are the Philadelphia Phillies. In an article by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, it appears that the Phillies could be getting cold feet in regards to signing the youngster:

“Even before Machado made news for the wrong reasons this week, there had been whispers that some in the Phillies organization would prefer to steer clear of Machado for just the reasons that the player articulated in his ill-advised and ill-timed comments. To the best of our knowledge, general manager Matt Klentak remains open-minded, and that’s good because Machado is a great talent and the Phillies need some of that if they are going to put a winner on the field.”

The Philadelphia Phillies off-season plans could be drastically altered by Machado’s comments. Heading into a free agent market filled with stars young and old, the club’s supposed two main targets are Machado and Bryce Harper. The duo is expected to garner possible contracts of $300 or even $400 million.

Those contracts would not only be record-breaking, they could make or break a franchise for years following the signing. The Phillies and every other team considering signing Machado or Harper absolutely need to know what they’ will be getting for an investment that large.

Looking at some large contracts from the recent past in Major League Baseball – examples include Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Chris Davis – those deals haven’t always turned out well for the signing teams.

Of course, those are completely different situations. The players listed were much older and arguably weren’t as talented as either Machado or Harper. That being said, there is little-to-no room for error here. The contracts that could be given out would likely dwarf those given to players such as Pujols and Howard.

Fancred’s John Heyman wrote how an anonymous executive said that Philadelphia may be the only team willing to pay Machado $300 million. This could be a possible negotiation point. While the Phillies may be willing to pay $300, if there is a way to pay less one might have to assume the club will take it.

Other teams could use this same tactic as well in hopes of signing Machado to a less-than-expected deal. It’s also important to note that Salisbury said some in the organization would prefer to stay away from Machado entirely. That is not the whole organization’s mutual feeling. It may not even be the feeling of the most key members of the front office.

At the same time, concerns over Machado and growing disinterest from the Phillies could be very legitimate.  Machado’s effort has been scrutinized during the current 2018 playoffs. Machado has also gotten himself into more trouble since discussing his lack of hustle, kicking Milwaukee Brewers’ first basemen Jesus Aguilar while running to first.

Yahoo! Sport’s Tom Verducci wrote that National League MVP candidate Christian Yelich (also with the Brewers) called the kicking incident a  ‘dirty play by a dirty player‘.

The Phillies have dealt with players who have had perceived issues with hustling in the past, from Jimmy Rollins to Odubel Herrera. If there are any doubts, Matt Klentak could always turn his attention to enticing Harper, who is expected to command an even larger contract than Machado.

One key takeaway that could go under the radar is Klentak’s open-mindedness. Even with Machado’s recent controversies, he is still a 26-year-old who is a four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner who quite possibly has not yet reached his prime.

The bottom line is that this is a generational player, one who almost every team would love to have. With the Phillies taking a major step from 2017 to 2018, it may be their time to take a chance on a player of this caliber to help them become a playoff contender once again.

Even with his flaws, Machado would likely help boost the team up the National League hierarchy. Klentak likely realizes this and knows he can’t shut the door on any possible options. The Phillies GM could very well go into free agency not knowing which player the team would prefer, instead letting the market play out before making their move.

As with every player, you have to take the good with the bad. Machado’s statements have made it clear he won’t change. The Phillies now have the benefit of knowing this before offering Machado a contract. Whether that will change their free agent plans remains to be seen.





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