Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees need to stick with the recipe that put them in the position they sit in now.
Patience is a virtue, Mr. Cashman.
Since the New York Yankees entered downtown Baltimore on Monday morning, there has been one man at the center of attention: Manny Machado.
Intense talks between New York and Baltimore (reportedly) broke out during the O’s homestand with the discussion primarily focused on what potential prospects the Yankees might consider letting go. The timeline went like this:
“I’m a shortstop. I play shortstop.” – Manny Machado, when asked if he’d move back to third base if traded to contender.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) July 10, 2018
Following his statements on Monday, this came next:
Source: #Orioles willing to trade Manny Machado to #Yankees if LHP prospect Justus Sheffield is in the deal, but there is skepticism #Yankees would move Sheffield for a rental. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 11, 2018
Then at last — reported by Fancred’s Jon Heyman and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal — the Yankees made their move:
sources: yankees have made a strong offer for manny machado. haven't heard they are the favorite, but they are clearly a player at this point. @Ken_Rosenthal said there was "increased" interest from NYY a couple days ago.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 11, 2018
Contrary to initial reports, the Yankees apparently didn’t include Justus Sheffield in their deal they proposed to the Orioles, as confirmed by Mike Mazzeo.
Yankees make right call on reportedly not including Justus Sheffield in deal for Manny Machado, says @MazzNYDNhttps://t.co/MiFplO2OaN pic.twitter.com/VH2ePsZVU8
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) July 11, 2018
Which leads us to the present. The Yankees opened up a four-game set with the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians in the midst of looking for a blockbuster deal…a deal I see being a predestined disaster for a team already equipped with high-priced, right-handed power. It is a situation that can very well be drawn out into the worst of both worlds.
Manny Machado becomes a free agent following the current 2018 MLB season. His asking price has been reported to be somewhere in the $300-$400 million range. For a 26-year-old superstar, it is also expected that he will seek a long-term contract to secure his future with the next team he signs with. That being said, there are three blatant reasons this move will hamper the Yankees more than it will benefit them in the long run.
1. Shaving the Farm System
I wrote Wednesday — as did Jon Morosi of MLB Network — that in order for the Yankees to have any chance of landing Machado, New York would have to give up Justus Sheffield. Regardless of the current status of the offer that is reported not have Sheffield in it, the Yankees must still slice off a top portion of their pristine prospects to land a caliber of player like this.
Entering 2018, the Yankees owned the second-ranked overall farm system in the Major Leagues. Since then they have promoted the likes of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, who have been nothing short of spectacular. While Torres sits on the disabled list with a hip strain, both have warranted Rookie of the Year conversations with their impressive numbers. Andujar has 40 extra-base hits to go along with his .279 batting average and 39 RBI (entering Thursday) — while Torres has a slash line of .294/.350/.555.
The point being made is the reliance on young, fresh talent that has propelled New York to this point. By executing a deal for Manny Machado, the Yankees would essentially have to wipe out a good portion of top-end talent. This can easily be avoided with a little something Guns N’ Roses made famous: Patience.
Fresh young talent brings fresh air to an organization. That was proven a year ago with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Why do you want to risk throwing away a piece such as Andujar in the midst of one of the best starts you’ll see from a 23-year old?
2. You're paying Machado either way
In just half a season, Machado will hit the open market as teams prepare to make him one of, if not, the highest paid player in all of professional baseball. Thus, why the Orioles feel the need to unload him now to make his departure worthwhile. You flip to the other side of the coin and see the risk of what it would cost a team in a pennant race to land him. Meanwhile, in roughly five months, teams will be able to bid on him without the cost of dumping a highly prized prospect package.
The notion keeps coming back to patience.
The Yankees brass and their faithful clearly are starving for that championship right this second — but at what cost? Trading for Machado would absolutely pencil in this lineup as an ALCS and World Series contender — more so than they are now. However, making this current move via trade requires the Yankees to have to sign Machado to a long-term extension for the deal to be worth everything it is. Trading for him as a rental at the expense of top-end prospects puts the Yankees in the Chicago Cubs’ position from two seasons ago, when New York sent over Aroldis Chapman for Gleyber Torres only to get him back in free agency anyway.
For those not wanting to wait the five months, this is your only rationale:
The Yankees earned their 61st win on Thursday night. For a team who has won as many games as New York has, you wouldn’t think there would be such potential problems when a team is 30 games above .500. Then you look at Boston and see that you’re still three and a half games out of the division — and a team reportedly in talks for a potential deal to land Manny Machado as well. Following the Steinbrenner way, it seems appropriate to assume Cashman does not want to see him end up in that locker room. It’s been stated on the record how much Manny dislikes Boston after the slide he made into second base which caused a chain reaction of events. He, needless to say, still has no choice where he goes for half a season in 2018.
#NoSoupForYouSox #Yankees #PinstripePride pic.twitter.com/pOaZS33aiL
— Sports Talk W/The Dirtbags (@SportsDirtbags) July 12, 2018
3. Pitching Wins Championships
Slice it up every which way and you see what this will mean for the future of the Yankees. A trade like this can affect a team negatively for years to come. I am not one who doesn’t want to see Machado in pinstripes but in the same instance, I’d rather take him for dollar signs than prospects and dollar signs. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the Yankees and Machado share the same tune when it comes to a potential marriage.
“The Yankees privately say that their interest in Machado is overblown. They’d sure love to have him as a free agent this winter, and Machado has told friends the Yankees are easily his first choice, but to grab Machado now without bolstering their pitching staff makes no sense.”
I happen to agree with Bob, while the Yankees seemingly don’t. This does, however, lead to my last point: Starting pitching. The starting rotation for the Yanks, while its team statistics say otherwise, has been very inconsistent. Not only inconsistent but young and inexperienced arms that were not expected to be thrown into the fire this soon (Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga).
To compete with a starting five like that of the Astros, the Yankees should focus on landing an arm that will bring this rotation to another level. The batting order is already of that level so why waste prospects on a pending free agent after 2018 and not put it towards a top-of-the-rotation arm if one is made available? If there is no Madison Bumgarner or Max Scherzer to make a run at then wasting a highly touted prospect on a J.A. Happ rental is damaging but necessary based on the inconsistency Sonny Gray and, at times, Masahiro Tanaka have provided this season.
Defense wins games, pitching wins championships. Deep rotations that can run the marathon through the 162-game season come out as the last team standing more often than not. Machado coming to New York does provide a legitimate chance at their 28th World Series title but how much will it cost them for the future? Will Didi Gregorius want to move away from shortstop? Will it cause tension in the clubhouse with the possibility of Andujar losing his starting job?
These are all questions Brian Cashman and ownership must factor in before pulling the trigger on this sort of deal. There seem to be more risks than rewards at this juncture in the regards to their future plans but when it comes to a potential 2018 World Series title, all bets are off for the Yankees brass.
Sometimes it’s okay to have hunger pains. Patience is a virtue…one that Brian Cashman must understand before selling off the future prospects of his team for a shortstop. If it’s towards starting pitching, completely understandable. Otherwise, wait half a season, and the man is all yours, Mr. Cashman.