It’s November and that means the “Hot Stove” season of Major League Baseball is beginning. Whether it’s players returning to their original teams, or finding new homes, there is always at least one free agent that gets a nice payday when all is said and done. This year Manny Machado is at the top of the free agent class.
At 26 years of age, he’s become one of the best players in the game today. His ability to seemingly do it all both offensively and defensively, his appeal to younger fans, especially Latino fans, and his growing popularity made him an attractive trade target last offseason. Nobody was able to workout a deal with the Orioles at that time, and it wasn’t until the 2018 trade deadline rolled around that the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to come up with a package to pull him away from Baltimore. He was a major contributor that helped the Dodgers reach their second straight World Series.
The Dodgers fell short in the Fall Classic and they would love to have him back for another shot at October glory. But a few other teams will be vying for his services as well. Machado, a Dominican-American, has a career slash line of .282/.335/.822 with 1,050 career hits, 175 career home runs, 513 RBI’s, 53 stolen bases, and 522 runs scored. He’s a four-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a Platinum Glove winner, and played for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He’s plays third base in addition to his natural shortstop, and he can hit for both average and power.
If the market bears out correctly, Machado’s next contract can potentially be for a minimum of six years and worth anywhere from $250 million to $400 million. In essence, he could receive one of the richest contracts in all of professional sports. For his next team it is believed that Machado will be looking to stay in a major media market and play for a contender that has a strong Latino fan base.
Despite the youth and undeniable talent Machado is not without faults? His performance during the playoffs provided every owner in MLB a chance to evaluate him. A job interview of sorts. While his play was solid, he also created some issues for himself. He was on a few occasions accused of failing to hustle on plays. His response to the press “that’s not my cup of tea” did not endear him to the purists and even the common fan. Then there was the dirty play. There were a few questionable plays that called his adherence to the code of baseball into question. It did not go unnoticed. At the owners meetings Wednesday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said it was “essential” to find out what Machado meant with his comments.
What or Rather Who’s Next
Here are four teams believed to be making the biggest push to have Machado on their roster for 2019 and beyond……
Los Angeles Dodgers
This is the most obvious choice. With the Dodgers on the verge of claiming their first World Series since 1988 this past season, why wouldn’t they want to bring him back for another run at the title? They bring back a good chunk of last season’s roster and they locked up starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw for another three years. The window in So Cal hasn’t closed yet and Machado can help keep that window open a little while longer.
Imagine if this franchise were to add Machado to the stable of Latino players which already includes Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora, Jose Quintana, and Pedro Strop? Culture aside; not only will Machado being energy to an offense that went dormant at the end of 2018, but it will also make it easier for the Cubs to part ways with infielders Daniel Murphy (offensive remarks about the LGBT community) and Addison Russell (domestic violence suspension) who drew the ire of both Cubs fans and social media during the latter months of last season. Machado may also be the key player to help get the Cubs back to the World Series.
Chicago White Sox
Experts say that Chicago’s south side franchise is another year or two away from contending again. They’ve been stockpiling young talent through trades and the draft over the last couple of years, but recently general manager Rick Hahn has stated his desire to add another veteran player to help this team fully transition into becoming winners again. This team already has some veteran stars in Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Yolmer Sanchez, and Welington Castillo. They also have some young guns in Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Leury Garcia, and Reynaldo Lopez.
Add Manny Machado to the mix and this team could have unlimited potential once it all comes together. Whether or not Machado is willing to take a chance on a rebuilding team remains to be seen, but the White Sox would be the best option if he were to give that route consideration. Perhaps he could be the player that they need to finally get over the hump.
New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers haven’t won a division title since 2012, haven’t won the World Series since 2009, and their last four playoff trips have been via the wild card. They always have money to spend and they wouldn’t think twice about throwing some of it Machado’s way if it meant adding to their trophy case again. The Yankees have a long, storied history of Latino players who’ve helped this franchise win championships. And Machado could help them rediscover their glory days. Notwithstanding that, owner Hal Steinbrenner has been vocal of late about the questions surrounding Machado. He told the New York Post “That kind of stuff [lack of hustle/dirty play] regardless of who the player is, in any trade or free-agent acquisition, these are the questions we are asking. The analytics, the pro scouting are always talking temperament, personality, motivation, how good a teammate someone is, do they understand what is expected of them by the New York Yankees and by the fans of New York City. It does matter, and it will be no different this year.” Valid concerns? Negotiating smokescreen? Tough to say, but the possibility of Machado in pinstripes is an intriguing one.
Let the bidding wars begin….