As the trade talks heat up, Ken Rosenthal adds some fuel to the fire in reporting the New York Yankees’ interest in Manny Machado.
Let the pandemonium begin.
Machado has long been rumored as trade bait from the struggling Baltimore franchise. The Orioles are in the midst a historically bad season where they find themselves deep in the basement of the AL East standings. They will likely look for the best package in return for their superstar, which could be one that their rivals in New York know they can put together.
While Rosenthal’s report suggests that “no deal appears close,” the Yankees make sense as a prime location for Machado to land. MLB.com had New York’s farm system ranked as the sixth-best in baseball in March. A perfect marriage could come from this.
The Bombers have four players on the sites top 100-ranked youngsters that are not on the present roster. That includes Estevan Florial (No. 44), Justus Sheffield (No. 48), Albert Abreu (No. 74) and Chance Adams (No. 75). Sheffield will be in next week’s All-Star Futures game and many consider Florial to be a top-notch prospect with above average speed.
This does not include the team’s prized prospect in current second baseman Gleyber Torres or third baseman Miguel Andujar, both of whom are also two of the best young players in baseball. Rosenthal comments in his article that “the Yankees farm system likely is strong enough to trump any club’s offer.” But one might wonder with all the upcoming talent, why is Machado necessary?
One reason may be that the team does not see a major pitching upgrade as an option given the bare market for starters. In fact, Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees front office could look “toward more creative ways to improve the team” given the lack of starting talent available.
While the Yankees do not have a glaring hole at the shortstop or third base position, Machado would certainly bolster one of the weaker spots in the lineup. Current third baseman Miguel Andujar holds an impressive .500 slugging percentage with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs on the season. However, the Yankees are 24th in baseball in WAR at third base (minus-0.6), per Baseball Reference.
Machado would address that weakness. The two-time Gold Glove winner at third base has been one of the best players in baseball this season. He is hitting .313 with 21 home runs and 60 RBI. He is second in all Major League Baseball in batting average, home runs and RBIs among qualifying shortstops. Machado would certainly be capable of moving back to third base, where he has spent a majority of his playing career.
Although he commented that he “is a shortstop” recently, it would be ironic and likely for him to end up back at third base. It would be a similar path that his idol (notice the number he wears) Alex Rodriguez took when he was traded to the Bronx.
This would give the Yankees the best lineup in baseball, which could be another motivating factor. The lineup already presents three of the best sluggers in the sport with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Machado would be an overwhelming fourth power-hitting addition that would make the lineup absolutely devastating. His additional right-handed bat would help the Yankees battle with AL East with rival Boston, whose rotation is filled with left-handers.
One of the more daunting would be the need to possibly overpay. It is unlikely that Baltimore would want to move their star player to a team in the division if they could avoid it. Baltimore has been linked to mainly teams in the National League when it comes to trade talks, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, and Los Angeles Dodgers. This is not a coincidence. While shipping him to New York could yield the best return, Baltimore would likely be inclined to make the Bombers overpay to trade him within the division. Even if he is a pending free agent.
In fact, it would be Machado’s impending free agency that should be on the shorter end of concerns for the Yankees front office. Even with the team’s desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold, they should have enough assets to add one large contact at the deadline and stay under. The Yankees would also be on the short list of teams that would be able to meet Machado’s large contract demands after the season. That coupled with offering him the chance to play third for a World Series contender would make it likely that they could convince him to stick around.
The final problem would be that it doesn’t address one of the more glaring needs of the team: starting pitching. The Yankees have been linked to numerous starting pitchers, but none of them appear to be star-level caliber. The team’s pitching staff ranks second in the MLB in ERA, right behind the squad they lost to in last year’s ALCS, the Houston Astros. Unless Machado can take the mound every five days (unlikely), he would not be the answer for the team’s issue of starting pitching depth.
The package would be costly (likely Andujar and Florial to start) and it may not solve the teams most important problem, but the acquisition of Manny Machado would make the entire sport of baseball go weak in the knees. It would be fascinating to possibly watch the best lineup in baseball against the best pitching staff in baseball in an ALCS rematch (one that the latter usually wins, just for the record).
Is it a move that is in the best interest of the organization, trading most of its stacked farm system for a player it doesn’t REALLY need? Probably not. Does it have other weaknesses that it should address? Of course. But, it would be a fun team to watch and the Yankees certainly have the farm system to make it happen. The team’s GM already did something similar this winter (and in the same swooping fashion) and it likely wouldn’t surprise anyone if he did it again. Even just daydreaming about the possibility might just make Brian Cashman turn it into a reality.