Manny Machado: 2024? (Part 2)
If Manny Machado opts-out, should the Yankees consider bringing him in? Let's talk about it.
Why the Yankees Should Get Involved:
Each offseason tends to feature a few select great-to-superstar like players who are available for nothing more than dollars and cents.* (*This is not considering how qualifying offers may affect draft picks.) Going back each year from now to the offseason when Manny Machado signed his original 10-Year/$300 Million contract, we get the following players who signed deals of 5+ years:
2022-23: Aaron Judge (NYY), Trea Turner (PHI), Carlos Correa* (MIN), Xander Bogaerts (SDP), Jacob DeGrom (TEX), Carlos Rodon (NYY), Brandon Nimmo (NYM), Dansby Swanson (CHC), Edwin Diaz (NYM), Willson Contreras (STL), Andrew Benintendi (CWS), and Robert Suarez (SDP)
2021-22: Corey Seager (TEX), Freddie Freeman (LAD), Carlos Correa (MIN), Robbie Ray (TOR), Eduardo Rodriguez (DET), Kris Bryant (COL), Marcus Semien (TEX), Javier Baez (DET), Trevor Story (BOS), Kevin Gausman (TOR), and Nick Castellanos (PHI)
2020-21: George Springer (TOR), J.T. Realmuto (PHI), and DJ LeMahieu (NYY)
2019-2020: Gerrit Cole (NYY), Anthony Rendon (LAA), Stephen Strasburg (WSH), Madison Bumgarner (ARI), and Zack Wheeler (PHI)
2018-2019: Bryce Harper (PHI), Manny Machado (SDP), Patrick Corbin (WSH), and AJ Pollock (LAD)
It is interesting to see the trend of teams giving longer free agent deals skyrocket in the past two offseasons, as the same number of 5+ year deals were given out from 2018 through 2021 as happened in his past offseason alone (both with 12). Now, this does not include any contract extensions, of which a few notable ones happened in during these years, which include Rafael Devers (BOS), Yu Darvish (SDP), Wander Franco (TBR), Joe Musgrove (SDP), Matt Olson (ATL), Jose Altuve (HOU), Christian Yelich (MIL), Francisco Lindor (NYM), Jose Ramirez (CLE), Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SDP), Alex Bregman (HOU), Julio Rodriguez (SEA), Mookie Betts (LAD), and Mike Trout (LAA). These are all the big names I can think of off the top of my head.
This is a long exaggerated way to say that just about every team in baseball is getting involved on some major contracts. Over these two lists, I can count 24 of the 30 teams in baseball listed with these 50 players signed, and I am sure I missed an important couple of names. Some teams- like the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres- are also seen across these lists with 5+ players. The Yankees can surely compete with those teams operating budgets (and have 4 names of their own listed). So, to make this an issue about money is laughable. We all already knew that, anyway, so enough about the money.
So, how good is Manny Machado really? We discussed his stat lines pre- and post-signing with the San Diego Padres and his numbers look really good, but is he really a superstar relative to his position?
Of course he is. Let's do a deep dive into three numbers from Fangraphs- WAR, Offense, and Defense- and compare Manny Machado since 2019 with his ranks as a third baseman in the MLB.
2019: +2.2 fWAR (19th), +6.3 Off (18th), and -4.6 Def (22nd)
2020: +2.6 fWAR (2nd), +14.5 Off (3rd), and +2.9 Def (9th)
2021: +4.3 fWAR (3rd), +16.1 Off (7th), and +4.9 Def (6th)
2022: +7.4 fWAR (1st), +41.9 Off (1st), and +6.9 Def (5th)
We'll consider the 2019 season a wash as Machado was getting situated to playing with the Padres and was used a decent amount as a shortstop, but since 2020, Machado had been a Top-3 third baseman in the MLB in fWAR each year, has been consistently in/near the Top-5 for offense and in the Top-10 in defense. Third base is a position where players can be valuable if they are elite with either their bat or their glove, and Machado having a great combination of both makes him a superstar. The only other third baseman who are consistently great at hitting and defense is Nolan Arenado. Names like Jose Ramirez (who isn't a great defender), Alex Bregman (who isn't a great hitter), Matt Chapman (who isn't consistent), and others just don't sniff the level of play of Machado and Arenado.
Speaking of, Nolan Arenado was in a very similar position to Manny Machado this past offseason. He had the ability to opt-out of his remaining 5-Year/$144 Million contract to explore free agency as a 32-year-old third baseman coming off a +7.9 bWAR season. Though Arenado decided not to opt-out, there were reports were coming out that Arenado could've easily beaten the $250 Million mark if he wanted to explore his options. Who is to say that Machado this offseason can't beat that figure? He'll be a year younger than Arenado and in that same stratosphere of ability.
Finally, we get to the Yankee-centric reason for "Yes". The Yankees do not currently have a third baseman scheduled for 2024. Well, technically they may, as they hold an $18 Million club option on Josh Donaldson (with an $8 Million buy-out), but I cannot imagine they'd be willing to run him back for a 3rd year. That $8 Million buy-out should be considered chump change for the Yankees, and they should consider that he will be 38 years old for the 2024 season. (What a horrible trade that was...) It shouldn't even be a discussion. Josh Donaldson should not be with the Yankees in 2024.
Beyond Josh Donaldson the Yankees do have Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, and Trey Sweeney as prospects looking for spots in the infield and it's yet to be seen what they can do. Peraza looks to be a shortstop, Volpe doesn't seem to have the arm for third base, and Trey Sweeney should not hold back the Yankees from getting a superstar.
There is going to be a hole on the team, and Machado would be a great piece to fill it.
There's an obvious push, already, for the Yankees to think about getting Manny Machado. And, the logic is there. He's a superstar, available for nothing other than money (which the Yankees have plenty of), and there is going to be a need for a third baseman next year.
Manny Machado would check all the boxes. He'd provide a pivotal piece to a Yankees line-up that needs more depth.
But, I'm not so sure that I'd really want him after all.
Check back again tomorrow at 6:00 PM to see why the Yankees shouldn't go after Manny Machado next offseason.