MLB hot stove: Yankees reportedly doing 'extensive' research on Manny Machado's background
Maybe the Yankees have designs on 'Johnny Hustle' after all
Manny Machado is just 26 years of age, and he's already tallied 175 career home runs. That's why the shortstop/third baseman is positioned alongside Bryce Harper as one of the most coveted free agents in baseball history. Machado is going to wind up inking a contract that likely pays him in excess of $300 million, and that means the major players figure to at least have cursory interest.
Speaking of Machado and the major players, here's this nugget from Ken Rosenthal's latest must-read and wide-ranging piece in The Athletic (subscription required) ...
Teams routinely seek background information on potential acquisitions, but the Yankees appear to be doing particularly extensive work on free-agent infielder Manny Machado, sources tell The Athletic's Jayson Stark.
The sources said manager Aaron Boone, front-office members and scouts are among those calling around about Machado, whose on-field conduct and "I'm not Johnny Hustle" interview with FS1 during the postseason invited additional scrutiny.
Machado, though, is generally well-regarded by those who know him.
Machado has become a bit of a firebrand for some of his postseason decisions. There was his kicking Jesus Aguilar's ankle, his aggressive slides and his occasional lack of vigorous effort coming out of the batter's box (which prompted the above-referenced "Johnny Hustle" quip). To hear some tell it, this behavior turned off the august Yankees, who otherwise could use a player like Machado (who couldn't, really).
This, though, never really passed the sniff test. With any player, it's matter of whether the occasional negative tics meaningfully diminish the actual on-field value he promises to provide. If, like almost every other player, Machado takes the occasional play off, then that's set against the fact that he's already authored more than 30 WAR for his employers. Any public puffery to the contrary is likely an attempt by teams to knock his market down a peg or two.
Anyhow, the Yankees certainly have use for Machado. Incumbent shortstop Didi Gregorius is out until at least June after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Right now, AL Rookie of the Year finalist Gleyber Torres is slotted in at shortstop in Gregorius' absence, and fellow Rookie of the Year finalist Miguel Andujar is back at third base. Andujar, though, is very much a defensive stretch at the position.
Machado by most accounts wants to remain at shortstop going forward. If that's the case, then Torres could be installed at third, which would measurably improve the infield defense. Andujar, meantime, could find enough ABs between third, DH, and perhaps first base. Alternatively, he could be traded as part of a deal that fortifies the rotation. As for Gregorius, that's a roster crunch that could be sorted out once he's healthy.
That the Yankees are reportedly kicking the tires on the Machado beyond the typical extent says a lot about the narrative of Machado's playoff foibles turning off potential suitors. It's all part of the larger picture, and the larger picture is one of a prime-years performer with MVP upside. Of course the Yankees are interested.
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