Free agent infielder Manny Machado is coveted on par with Bryce Harper for many good reasons. He's a standout defender at third base and also capable of providing at least average defense at shortstop. He's just 26 years of age, and he's coming off a career season at the plate. He also doesn't come with a qualifying offer attached. For all those reasons, Machado this offseason is going to wind up with one of the largest contracts in MLB history. And the week ahead may provide us with some tantalizing clarity on that front. 

That's because Machado on Monday will begin a tour of four clubs -- three known and at least one unknown -- who at this juncture have shown the most interest in him. His reported itinerary ... 

Monday: Chicago White Sox

Wednesday: New York Yankees

Thursday: Philadelphia Phillies

And, to repeat, according to multiple reports there's at least one mystery team who'll be feting and wooing Machado at some point, likely this week. (We recently took some guesses as to who Machado's mystery suitor/suitors might be.) As for the teams we do know, let's run down their pros and cons for Machado as this perhaps determinative week begins 

White Sox


  • They offer Machado the opportunity to be the unrivaled star of the team.
  • The White Sox profile as contenders possibly as early as this season (thanks in part to the weakness of the AL Central).
  • Yonder Alonso is on the roster.

The Sox have an impressive crop of young talent in place and on the way, what with names like Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, and Reynaldo Lopez in place and names like Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech (once he returns from Tommy John surgery), Alec Hansen, Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Blake Rutherford, Jake Burger, and Zack Collins on the way. That's a deeply promising long-term core, but Machado without question would be the face of it. Depending on how those young talents develop and how well GM Rick Hahn surrounds them, the White Sox could be relevant for most of Machado's contract. That's bound to have some appeal. 

Also, file under "for what it's worth" if you like, but the White Sox not long ago pulled off a trade for veteran first baseman Yonder Alonso. Machado is married to Alonso's sister, and that -- according to high-level internet research -- makes Machado his brother-in-law.


  • Uncertain willingness to beat other offers. 
  • Probably no opening at shortstop. 
  • Not presently a flagship franchise. 

Without question, the White Sox have the resources and budget space to go all out for Machado, but a recent report by Buster Olney has it that they're reluctant to offer record-setting contracts to either Machado or Bryce Harper. If the market moves into that particular neighborhood -- i.e., around or beyond the record $325 pact signed by Giancarlo Stanton in his Marlins days -- then the Sox may not be willing to compete for Machado. That, potentially, is a huge disadvantage. 

Elsewhere, Machado has said he prefers to remain at shortstop going forward. Chicago, however, has a young-ish shortstop in Anderson, who's locked up potentially through 2024 and who showed promising growth with the glove last season. Perhaps Anderson and the Sox would make accommodations for Machado when it comes to the shortstop position (although Anderson hasn't played anywhere other than short as a pro), but the path to Machado's preferred position isn't clear in Chicago. 

It's not certain to what extent this matters, but the Sox lack the allure of the Yankees or, really, even the Phillies. They're overshadowed in their own city by the crosstown Cubs, and the rebuilding process has delivered a body blow to their attendance figures. No doubt, a Machado signing would invigorate the fan base -- and Sox rooters will indeed support a winner -- but even in better days they're not the Yankees/Red Sox/Dodgers when it comes to the national consciousness. 



  • They're one of the biggest brands in sports.
  • They play in New York. 
  • They're World Series contenders.

If you're looking for brand appeal, then the pinstripers in the Bronx have it to spare. The august appeal of playing for the Yankees has played a stated role in attracting free agents such as Jason Giambi, CC Sabathia, and even Reggie Jackson in the past, and it remains an effective weapon. It could indeed be a selling point for Machado. What also may be a selling point is that the Yankees rest their head in the media capital of the world. While that perhaps makes for some crowded scrums at a star player's locker, it also ramps up a player's opportunities for off-the-field income, mostly in the form of endorsements. 

As for on-field matters, the Yankees are coming off a 100-win season and a playoff berth. Yes, they share a division with the champion Red Sox and 90-win Rays, but the Yankees -- with their vast resources and impressive young core -- look like title contenders for years to come. Add Machado to the current mix, and oddsmakers will likely lean Yankees as World Series favorites going into the 2019 season. 


  • Machado might not be able to stay at shortstop long-term. 
  • They may not be willing to pay top dollar. 
  • Past criticism of Machado's effort level.

To repeat, Machado wants to be a shortstop after proving in his 2018 return to his original position that he can still handle it. To start, the Yankees can accommodate. Gleyber Torres can shift to second, and Miguel Andujar can remain at third. However, perhaps as early as June, Didi Gregorius will return from Tommy John surgery, and that likely means Machado would be bumped to third. Even if Andujar is traded this offseason -- a distinct possibility -- Gregorius is going to come back at some point, and that may mean Machado doesn't get his preferred deployment. 

The Yankees have more than enough money to sign Machado, Harper, and others, but it's a matter of will as opposed to capability. The reality is that the Yankees are choosing to operate with one eye on the competitive balance tax threshold (the luxury tax threshold, in fan parlance), and that likely caps how high they're willing to go for Machado. If it's simply a matter of Machado's accepting top dollar, then the Yankees may, of their own accord, come up short. 

This may or may not matter, but Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner expressed concern over Machado's occasional lack of hustle during the postseason and Machado's subsequent comments on the matter. All of this can be smoothed over easily enough, but it may linger as a tertiary consideration. 



  • The money. 
  • Shortstop is open. 

The Phillies have going for them what seem like the two most important factors. They have deep coffers, and relative to pretty much every other aspiring contender they have loads of room in the budget. Coming into the offseason, the Phillies were said to have designs on signing Machado and Harper. While a Harper deal looks unlikely right now, they still have plenty of bank for Machado. It's hard to see any team choosing to go dollar for dollar with the Phillies when it comes to Machado. Also, the Phillies reportedly are willing to move the newly acquired Jean Segura off shortstop in deference to Machado. 


  • Gabe Kapler's managerial style?
  • Still not an obvious contender.

This is speculative, but how will Machado take to a tactically involved skipper like Kapler? Kapler famously raised some player hackles last season with his approach, and it's possible Machado will be turned off by the thought that he could be, say, benched for non-obvious matchup reasons or somesuch. Again, this is a speculative con and may not even register with Machado and his reps. 

Beyond that, the Phillies are coming off a losing season in which they they played like a team that was ten games below .500 at the level of runs scored and runs allowed. The Phillies' youth movement hasn't kept pace with some others around the league, and the NL East is profiling as a pretty brutal circuit in 2019 and beyond. The Philly front office is rightly behaving like a contender, but it's not clear that they'd be among the power teams of the NL even with Machado. For instance, the SportsLine Projection Model presently tabs the Phillies for 77 wins and just a 9.9 percent chance of making the playoffs in 2019. Machado would of course move the needle in the right direction, but they'd still be solid underdogs. 

Whatever the specifics of his visits -- and whoever those mystery teams turn out to be -- we're sure to know much more about the Machado market a week from now. Until then, let the stage-managed stadium tours ferry us toward clarity.