Bye Bye Manny: Some Quick Perspectives…
I am on record, many times throughout this off-season, stating that I think the Yankees should be big players in the free agent market for elite talent that is young (meaning Manny Machado and Bryce Harper). Now that Manny Machado has signed with the Padres, I have some reactions & perspectives:
At the start of the off-season, I outlined my plan for the 2019 Yankees. Manny Machado was not part of my initial plan. (You can see the entire plan here: If I Were The GM…) That being said, I would have liked the Yankees to be players in this sweepstakes. The fact that they were not disappoints me.
For me (and many fans) part of the fun in being a Yankees fan is being able to root for a franchise that supposedly stops at nothing to acquire the best available talent to build championships. Or, at least, that used to be the case.
If the Yankees don’t win the pennant, no one will applaud them for being more financially prudent by not signing the super big name players. The team gets no award for that. I do have to trust their decision making, but I am skeptical. While they did spend some this winter, they still let an elite player get away. This elite player, though, was not the one I ultimately wanted them to grab.
I do think (hope) that Miguel Andujar can be an elite hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if his offensive WAR is similar to Machado’s over the next five to ten years. I think Andujar can be that good. He was part of my big plan and I am glad that he will be the third baseman now and for the foreseeable future. I believe in his bat.
I am concerned, though, about Andujar’s defense. I am hoping that all the extra work translates into a slow and steady improvement over this, and the coming, years. The upgrade that Machado would have brought would have been a solid bat and vastly improved defense. Plenty of excellent defensive third basemen struggled in their first years at the hot corner. The Yankees have to hope that Andujar follows that path. I’ll even go out on a limb and state that I think he can and will. While he may never be a gold glover, I think he can play an average defensive third base. The Yankees must also feel this way.
In addition to providing a great bat and great defense, Manny Machado would have provided great insurance in case Didi Gregorius cannot return from Tommy John surgery. We have to hope that Troy Tulowitzki and/or D.J. LeMahieu can hold down shortstop until Gregorius returns.
I am not broken up over the fact that Machado is not a Yankee. In the end, if he can play good enough defense at third base, the Yankees might have a similar player over the next five to ten years in Miguel Andujar. That’s the hope at least.
Still I don’t like it when elite talent gets away, a player who would make them better in 2019 and beyond, without the Yankees even being in the game. To me that’s not acceptable.
One guy who I think the Yankees need, and I don’t think he’s a luxury, is still Bryce Harper. When he signs with another team, I will be crushed. Harper is elite and fits the team better than Machado would have. The Yankees have no one like Harper on the team that will even be a reasonable facsimile as Andujar could be for Machado. Harper bats left-handed. The Yankees have no left-handed batters in 2019. Harper plays outfield. The Yankees don’t have depth there. I love Clint Frazier, but, right now, he’s just a question mark. Brett Gardner is not an everyday player any longer. Aaron Hicks isn’t signed past this season. It would be a shock if Jacoby Ellsbury ever plays for the Yankees again. This was a team that had to play Shane Robinson as an everyday player last year. There is a need for another outfielder for 2019 and beyond. Harper is a superstar begging to shine in New York. It makes so much sense to slot his huge bat right in between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Some writers still state that they think the Yankees will sweep in and land Harper. I don’t see that happening. When was the last time the Yankees did that sort of thing…2009? It’s just not the way they operate any longer. Again, I think that’s a shame. The Yankees should always use their financial strength to put the best team out there. Machado would have made them better. Harper still will. They still have time to make this huge splash that will energize many fans and, more importantly, absolutely tilt the balance of power in the Yankees direction.
If Machado and Harper go on to Hall-of-Fame careers, and if neither are Yankees, this will go down as a lost off-season – especially if the Yankees do not win some championships in these next few years. In 15 to 20 years as the hype around either or both Harper and Machado is tremendous as people celebrate what they did, Yankees fans will always have to wonder “what if.”
There is still time to land Harper. I hope they do! (Part of being a fan is hoping beyond all reason.)