There is no arguing that Manny Machado is one of the most talented players in the game, and the Yankees love talented players. In many ways, Machado seems like a perfect fit for pinstripes. He has the potential to be a very versatile player defensively. He has power. He keeps his average up enough to be more than just a slugger. About the only thing you can knock him for is that maybe he isn’t as disciplined at the plate as he could be. If that is the one thing that can be pointed out as an “almost flaw,” you’ve got a special kind of athlete on your hands.
Machado has proved durable since his 2014 knee surgery. He’s only 26. He can play shortstop with the best of them; he can play third, although he doesn’t want to anymore, and he’s worked out at first but has yet to play there in a regular season game. The Yankees have room under the cap to sign Machado as a rental this year and still go after some pitching. This all points to a tailor-made union, but it isn’t going to happen.
The problems and obstacles to this coupling happening this year are too numerous. The biggest thing is that Oriole’s owner, Peter Angelos, hates trading away big stars. The only thing he hates more than that is trading them to a team in his division, and he despises no team more than the Yankees. Machado will not be happy at third base. He wants to play shortstop, but Didi Gregorius is already there and signed through 2020. As far as the Yankees are concerned, shortstop is covered. First base is a possibility, but it is unlikely the Bronx Bombers will be happy having him learn the position on the fly.
Third base is what makes sense for the Yankees. That is where they need Machado. Playing a couple months at third isn’t going to hurt Machado’s value when he becomes a free agent this off-season. As the Yankees are likely to make a playoff run, shining on that stage wouldn’t hurt either, but is that enough to get Machado to bend a little on his insistence that he only play shortstop? Not too many GM’s think so.
Furthermore, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman that he was going to be attacking weaknesses as the trade deadline approaches, and he doesn’t see third as a weakness. That may be a bit of misdirection, but Cashman has always been a straight shooter, and the Yankees need pitching help more than they need help at third.
For New York, Machado would be an affordable rental this season at around $5.5-$7 million on the cap, according to The New York Post. He is someone they have wanted for at least two years. It is likely Machado will sign a new contract for around $400 million this winter, and the Yankees can swing that kind of money, but they show no indications that they believe having him on the roster for a couple months will give them an edge signing him.
The smart money says that Angelos will trade Machado, even though he waited too long to do it. The most likely scenario is that Machado goes to the NL, probably landing with the Diamondbacks or Dodgers. Machado would be a game changer for the Yankees, but only at third base. At least this year, which is why it isn’t likely to happen. Next year, pinstripes are a possibility.