The trade for Jean Segura was a necessary one for the Phillies. It not only gave them a quality bat, but also filled a hole at shortstop, one that many expected to be filled by free agent Manny Machado.
As Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported, the Phillies have plans of Segura and Machado in the same infield. For that plan to work, it would require Machado to set up shop at third base instead of his desired spot at shortstop. Despite being a two-time gold glove award winner at third base and statistically better at that position, Manny holds all the cards as a coveted free agent.
Many clubs are willing to give whatever the young four-time All-Star wants so he will sign. If that’s filling his desire to play short, so be it. But, the Phillies may not have to do that. As The Inquirer‘s Scott Lauber wrote, former Baltimore Orioles third base coach Bob Dickerson believes money would convince Machado to play third instead of short.
“I think if the contract is right, he would,” Dickerson said. “It may have to go an extra five million, or more, or whatever to get him out of [shortstop]. But if the contract is right, I think he would go to third.”
Although this is purely Dickerson’s opinion, it’s hard to ignore him considering how close he’s become with Machado. In the article, Lauber notes that Dickerson, who was with the Orioles from 2012 to 2018, was the one who taught Machado to play third and has known Machado since he was 16. As Dickerson put it, he tried to be a “father-figure” to the superstar.
Dickerson also noted it would have to be the “correct team and the correct situation” as well. Machado will get the chance to see up close if it’s the right circumstances in Philadelphia. He’s scheduled to visit Citizens Bank Park next week, which Salisbury confirmed on NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s “At the Yard” podcast.
What kind of situation the 26-year-old Machado believes to be right for himself isn’t publicly known, but speculation would suggest the Phillies are closer to being right than wrong after signing Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal and trading for the All-Star Segura.
Regardless of what Machado thinks of the team, as Dickerson said, it will come down to the contract. Owner John Middleton has done more talking than walking at this point after he said the Phillies were prepared to be “stupid” about how they spent money in an interview with USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. While the Phillies did sign McCutchen, they backed down on other potential targets. The Phillies refused to add an extra year to free agent pitchers Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, who both signed elsewhere. The Phillies could certainly use another left-handed starter, and those were two of the best on the market. In short, there’s been more hesitation and playing it cautious rather than throwing around money.
No matter the strategy, there’s no denying that there is still plenty of money lying around for the Phillies to make due on Middleton’s claims. The question is – who does the team prefer breaking the bank for – Machado or Bryce Harper?