There is no denying that the New York Mets are suddenly hampered with a crowded infield.
After the signing of Jed Lowrie, who could very well be the team’s starting second or third baseman come Opening Day, the Mets are experiencing a logjam that will see Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Amed Rosario, and Jeff McNeil all looking to get every-day playing time. It could force manager Mickey Callaway to move natural second baseman Cano or natural third baseman Frazier to first base while Rosario remains the every-day shortstop.
It looks like McNeil, who batted .329 in his first year in the majors last season, will be splitting his time as a utility infielder and backup outfielder.
But after current developments on the free-agent market, there is no reason why the Mets should not at least think about making things even more crowded and going after All-Star infielder Manny Machado.
According to a report by Buster Olney, which was vehemently denied by Machado’s agent Dan Lozano, the Chicago White Sox have offered the 26-year-old a seven-year, $175 million deal. That amounts to around $25 million per season.
In today’s age of social media and the internet, we’ve been seeing a trend of insiders and sleuths alike trying to get the big story out as quickly as possible. So for that, Olney’s report has to be taken with a grain of salt despite his standing as one of the most reputable names in the game.
If his source is true, however, then the team’s interested in Machado should expand far more than just the three teams that held meetings with him in December, which was the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and White Sox.
Entering this offseason, it was originally forecasted that Machado would be earning a deal around the $300 million mark, something along the lines of a 10-year deal that pays $30 million in AAV.
But the excruciatingly slow process that has been Major League Baseball’s offseason has seen Machado’s value dwindle, especially after his showing in the postseason. Still, there is no denying that he is one of the best infielders in the majors today, Since 2015, he’s slashed .284/.345/.511 with an average of 36 home runs and 96 RBI per season. Those are numbers that warrant a very rich deal especially for a player who is just entering his prime.
Yet the White Sox’s reported offer suddenly makes Machado seem much more affordable. Though that still might not be as big of a bargain to coax the Mets into seriously pursuing him.
Mets owners, the Wilpon family, have always been hesitant to give out big-time deals to star players. Over the past 20 years, we’ve really only seen it three times with the signings of Mike Piazza, Carlos Beltran, and Yoenis Cespedes.
While they seem to still be reeling from the Bernie Madoff scandal that saw them lose millions, the Wilpons seem content building a big-market ball club on a budget. Which is why they will never ben consistent and legitimate contenders.
As it stands, the Mets’ 2019 payroll is around the $155 million mark. That’s approximately $50 million below Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold of $206 million. To compare how the other New York team does it, the Yankees are at around $212 million after the signing of DJ LeMahieu.
The Mets’ payroll is far too low for a team that is claiming that it is the one to beat in the National League East, especially when the Phillies are on the verge of signing Bryce Harper and the defending division champion Atlanta Braves are continuing to build around a young, talented core.
Adding between $25 million-to-$30 million a season won’t break the bank for the Mets and give them their starting third baseman for the next decade, at least. It then gives the Mets the flexibility to trade Frazier while Lowrie becomes a utility infielder that can play every position.
Suddenly you’re looking at a starting infield in 2019 that could feature, Peter Alonso at first, Cano at second, Rosario at shortstop, and Machado at third. That’s a pretty good-looking group.