For those of you who tune into The No Bull Just Ball Podcast, you’d know that I never really had much faith in the Los Angeles Dodgers this Postseason. Something about a collection of legitimate All-Stars barely scraping past the Colorado Rockies for the NL West divisional crown was definitely a red flag for me. Somehow that jigsaw puzzle of talent clicked together at the right time to reach the World Series, but they met their demise at the much more aptly assembled ensemble of the Boston Red Sox.
What I love most about the Dodgers in 2018 is the individuals that make up that absurd payroll, which was tops in baseball for 4 straight seasons leading up to 2018 (finally usurped by the Red Sox). Their collection of stars couldn’t seal the deal in Hollywood, but a number of them very well could garner some shiny new hardware in the coming years as they look to leave LA. Guys like Brian Dozier, Yasmani Grandal, & Hyun-Jin Ryu could all get solid paydays and a sizable role either staying with the Dodgers or journeying elsewhere. But what interests me most is one man in particular: Manny Machado.
Quite easily, Machado and Bryce Harper will dominate discussion throughout the offseason as they both get set to sign massive deals. It is very possible that given his status as the man with more recent success and a pattern of consistent growth, the final offer that Manny signs will look a lot bigger than what Bryce gets.
Arguably the most intriguing aspect of Machado’s free agency is the near 100% guarantee that he will find a new himself a new home in 2019. While the Dodgers definitely needed the 26 year old for the second half of 2018 and ensuing push towards the Postseason, a returning Cory Seager and healthy Justin Turner means that the club no longer has that devastating need on the left side of their infield. The only conceivable way Machado sticks around in LA is if the team is willing to move either Turner or Seager from their longtime positions, over to Second Base. But since that’s an incredibly risky and unlikely move for the Dodgers, it’s far more likely that we see Machado rocking some new threads next season and beyond.
So what does the market look like for arguably the best player available? Well for starters, the team he signs with is going to need to provide a sizable payday. When the former Oriole grew unhappy in the floundering Baltimore franchise a year ago, his trade demands were limited to big-market destinations. Manny looks to be gunning for baseball’s biggest payday, and he’d be crazy to search for anything less than that. Additionally we’re talking about a 26 year old…so conceivably a 10 year deal is hardly a stretch when discussing his long term potential. Manny just got his feet wet in World Series baseball, so he’s going to want to be able to walk on to a team that has a roster built to win instantly. Lastly, after years of manning the hot corner at third, Machado made it a point in 2018 that he wanted to return full-time to his original position of Shortstop where he proceeded to produce another Gold Glove caliber season. So who can give him what he wants, I’ve got a few ideas:
- Philadelphia Phillies – So here’s what you’ve got to know about this Phillies team: they’re a piece (or two) away from being great. In 2018 the Phils saw themselves locked in a dogfight for the NL East crown until the Braves finally pulled away in mid-September; an impressive feat for a roster that can’t boast a single .270 or better hitter and only Rhys Hoskins able to hit 30+ Homers & 80+ RBIs. Now imagine what they could be with the likes of Machado, Harper, or dare I say both in that order. Even more glaring for the Phils is the enormous hole at Shortstop. Youngsters JP Crawford & Scott Kingery have proven themselves with the glove but haven’t shown up at the plate at all thus far. Plus the Philadelphia is a pretty sizable sports market in its own right, able to boast countless titles and no fear of spending the money necessary to build a contender. So there you have it, the outline for Machado to travel to a weak NL East and dominate in the Phillies batting order, collect the check he’s been searching for, and be content with playing his favorite position. It truly is an ideal situation for him, especially if it comes with some powerful other additions to the organization.
- Chicago White Sox – Bet you weren’t really expecting this one now were you? Oh…you totally were expecting it…because they’ve been after him since last offseason…makes sense. There’s a legitimate reason for the White Sox to be so high on Manny Machado right now. They have an incredibly young core currently just breaking into the big leagues from their impressive farm system. The potential is there for the future, but playing in such a weak division at the moment also means that with a big splash today they can set up a winning culture for all of that young talent to grow in. The benefit that Manny Machado brings is that not only will he be able to carry an offensive load and act as a mentor to your younger roster pieces, but seeing as he’s also young he’ll be able to stick around for the long haul. There’s potential for some infield tinkering in Chicago too. Tim Anderson the highly coveted shortstop talent is athletic enough to move to either other infield position or possibly even transition to the outfield where his athleticism alone would make him an incredible asset. The only real question mark with this move would be Manny Machado’s desire to play for them. They don’t have the recent track record of success that nearly every other team can offer him. Nor can the White Sox lay claim to any realistic expectations of improvement without Machado playing at a near MVP clip for them next year. It all essentially boils down to whether or not he’s willing to think long term with his next move, or is it more of just a win now kind of decision.
- New York Yankees – Hey you know what team is legitimately set up to win now, and long term? Whether you answered that question with a smile or accompanied it with a middle finger, the fact is you know I’m right and more importantly you know how likely this really is. Manny Machado has made his desire to play for the New York Yankees no secret. Leading up to the blockbuster deal that sent him to LA over the summer, he made countless references to wanting to be a Bronx Bomber. Even going so far as to post a photo with his fellow AL All-Stars (coincidentally the only ones who made it into that flick were Yankees) just before the trade out west occurred. Now am I really to believe that anything that has gone down since then has changed his desire to dawn the pinstripes? Hell no. This boy wants to be a Yankee, and conveniently enough the Yankees want him to be too. Sure New York should be far more preoccupied with trying to fix their nearly non-existent starting rotation, but when has Brian Cashman ever passed up on an opportunity like this. Sure there’d be some finagling to be done, like what becomes of ROY candidate Miguel Andujar or Didi Gregorious one of whom would undoubtedly be losing their job to the more talented Machado. Additionally what moves would still be available to try and fix the abysmal pitching staff. This one works for both sides, but opens up a lot of questions for the Yankees front office.
- St. Louis Cardinals – Noticing a trend here? All of the teams I’ve listed have been doing the Machado shuffle since the party that was the 2017 Winter Meetings. Any time the mans name comes up in any transaction or rumor, it can be assumed one of these guys are going to be involved. For the St. Louis Cardinals’ part, they’re hungry and they’re desperately searching for a main course. Manny provides this team with the kind of offensive juggernaut they need so badly while also drastically improving their infield from the moment he steps foot on the field. The red birds need a guy like Manny to lead them today and tomorrow. They got spurned last year by a few stars on a lower tier, so this year I think it’s hard to imagine they pull any punches in negotiations. Don’t be shocked to see the Cards offering money you didn’t even think that they had to the big money men this offseason. They missed the playoffs in 2018 by a game, and they now have to contend with a division that boasts two 90 game winners in the Cubs and Brewers. Making a big splash in free agency has become the only way to maintain relevance.
No matter where Manny Machado goes this offseason two things can be assumed: that team is a contender and Manny Made Money.