Manny Machado has had himself quite a week. The infielder’s production this postseason has been fine (.894 OPS, 140 wRC+) in eight games with the Dodgers, but he’s made headlines recently for all of the wrong reasons. I’d be very happy if the Yankees got him anyway.
First, there was the hustle thing. Manny didn’t run out a routine ground ball earlier in the NLCS and baseball purists noticed and immediately clutched their pearls. I can’t emphasize enough how little I care about this. Sure, I would prefer to have guys who bust it down the line each and every at-bat, but it’s not realistic. I had no problem when we went through this with Robinson Cano and I wouldn’t have a problem with it if Machado were to be doing it in pinstripes.
In Major League Baseball, guys aren’t going to make errors just because the batter was hustling down the line. It doesn’t happen. If it’s a play that may be close, I would hope at that point guys like Machado would run their hardest to first, but on routine grounders? Miss me with that. Doooooooon’t care!
The worse part of that story is what happened in his interview with Ken Rosenthal when Machado doubled down and essentially said that hustling isn’t his thing and he’s not going to change that now.
Obviously, this isn’t what you want to hear, but, again, I don’t really care if he keeps hitting and fielding the way he always has.
The next thing with Machado was the slide at second base when he tried to break up a double play. He extended his arms to try to throw off Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia turning a double play. The Utley rule was called and it became a double play. Once again, it wasn’t something I really care about. I could probably argue that it contradicts his comments on the hustling thing, actually.
I can see why people don’t like this- I don’t like this- but it wasn’t something that was out of the ordinary. He was trying to help keep the inning going for his team in the playoffs and I can’t blame him for this. These plays aren’t really dirty, especially when there’s clearly no intent to injure the opposing player, like in this case with Arcia.
Machado was fined by Major League Baseball for the play.
The most recent play is the worst thing that Machado’s done. Machado kicked Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the heel/ankle area while running out a grounder. Take a look:
VIDEO: @Dodgers SS Manny Machado executes one of the biggest bush league plays in baseball by pretending to trip over @Brewers 1B Jesus Aguilar's foot on a routine ground out. #NLCS pic.twitter.com/SCROQGnzdx— Billy Krumb (@ClubhouseCancer) October 17, 2018
Christian Yelich on Manny Machado’s incident at first base with Jesus Aguilar:— BASEBALL VAULT™ (@BSBVAULT) October 17, 2018
“It’s a dirty play by a dirty player.” pic.twitter.com/O08imKDpQE
This play was dirty. It was a really disgusting play that, at the minimum, was a poor attempt to bother Aguilar and, at worst, was an attempt to injure Aguilar.
It was a disgusting play. What do you want me to say? Manny’s always been a pretty huge asshole. I don’t have to explain more why that was a bad look for Manny, but it doesn't affect his free agent stock at all.
Manny Machado has been one of the best overall hitters in baseball for some time now, and he’s still only 26 years old. His combination of power and contact with the level of defense he plays (particularly at third base) and the positions at which he plays defense makes him a no-brainer elite player each and every year.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to people, but Twitter has proven me wrong yet again: Manny Machado would help the Yankees next year.
The Yankees got under the luxury tax threshold this year and they did it for a reason. That reason is so that they can go back to the Yankee way of doing things and flex their wallets. I, personally, don’t root for the Steinbrenners’ bank accounts, so I wouldn’t have minded if they never ever reset their luxury tax hit and kept spending. The Steinbrenners do care about such things now, though, so if they felt like they needed to reset the tax rate in order to start spending again, then cool. They’re going to spend.
Machado still fancies himself to be a shortstop. I still don’t really like him there, but that’s neither here nor there. He can play shortstop or third base, and the Yankees are in a unique position where they need to add someone who can do those things.
It’s no secret that Miguel Andujar is a bad defensive third baseman. He doesn’t pass the eye test and the sabermetrics don’t favor him. It’s a tough watch. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on his potential to play third, but it does mean that if they have the opportunity to get someone like Machado to play third, then I’m more than comfortable allowing Andujar to try out some other positions, whether that be first base, DH, or, my personal choice for Miggy, left field.
I’m more than happy to let Andujar keep trying to develop at third if they don’t land someone like Machado, but you don’t let Andujar be the reason for not signing Machado. Andujar’s bat is legit, so don’t give up on him, but if you can get Machado you get Machado.
Didi Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week. At the absolute earliest, he’ll be back in late May or early June. It’s more likely that his return timeline has him slated somewhere around the All-Star break or even August. There’s a hole at shortstop that could be filled by Machado.
The Gregorius injury allows the Yanks to let Machado keep thinking he’s a shortstop for about half a season or so, and it lets them see another half of a year of Andujar’s development at third before deciding for sure what they want to do defensively with him.
It’s important to remember, though, that you should sign a guy as elite as Manny Machado regardless of the respective Miguel Andujar and Didi Gregorius situations. When one of the best players of the generation becomes available as they’re entering their prime, that is going to potentially a $300 or even $400 million investment. The Yankees don’t decide to do that just because Didi is now hurt and they decide that completely independently of how they feel about Miguel Andujar.
I’ll live with it if the Yanks don’t sign Machado. I like a lot of the pieces that are already in place. They obviously have more pressing needs. There’s nothing wrong with making your strengths stronger, though, and I find the idea that a large swath of the fan base would be upset with signing Manny Machado to be absurd. Machado would be a tremendous help to the Yanks in 2019 and moving forward. He’s one of the best players in a long time to play this game.
The Yankees are in win-now mode. It's fun! Signing Machado is the move that would most help a team to win right now.