The New York Yankees have rarely been a team building a championship contender on a budget, but that’s the general feeling as Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings kicked off from Las Vegas on Monday.
While one more starting pitcher is most likely the top priority, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman finds himself in a bit of a conundrum while looking at his infield.
Starting shortstop Didi Gregorius — who has pieced together some of the more offensively productive years (especially from a power standpoint) at the position in franchise history — is going to miss a majority of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. While he’s under team control through the 2019 season, unrestricted free agency looms next winter which puts his future with the Yankees in question.
His absence has opened the door to the possibility of New York bringing on All-Star Manny Machado. As one of the best players in the league at his position, Machado wouldn’t only provide the Yankees with an upgrade at the position, but it would give the Bronx Bombers another formidable bat for years to come in a lineup that already boasts Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
A questionable showing in the postseason and a history of a mean streak though has provided a notable hit to Machado’s reputation, which could very well be hurting his value on the market.
Originally expected to make well over $300 million in his next deal alongside Bryce Harper, Machado might have some issues bolstering down that megadeal.
What we do know is that it won’t be coming from the Yankees. While they are still showing interest and will meet with the 26-year-old at the Winter Meetings this week, reports have revealed that they will not pay $300 million for him.
Due to additional interest from the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, a bidding war could ensure that the Yankees will quickly abandon any hopes of getting the four-time All-Star.
That leaves the Yankees still searching for an infield fix, but one could be had on the free agent market for a much cheaper price in veteran second baseman Daniel Murphy.
The 33-year-old is coming off an injury-riddled 2018 with the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, but still posted kind of numbers that will only get better at Yankee Stadium.
He also has the experience of playing in the Big Apple after spending the first seven years of his career with the Mets and putting together a monster postseason in 2015 that sparked a run to the World Series.
After signing with the Nationals in 2016, the left-handed Murphy flourished into an even more dangerous offensive threat, posting 162-game averages of 26 home runs and 103 RBI to go with a sterling .326 batting average. That includes last year that was limited to just 91 games as he still batted .299 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI.
The Yankees will likely be able to get Murphy on the cheap, as Bleacher Report predicted he will get a two-year deal worth $20 million (albeit, from the Angels). He would immediately become the team’s starting second baseman while young star Gleyber Torres moves over to shortstop, his natural position.
Murphy would then be able to feast on the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium with the kind of hitting prowess that would provide New York’s lineup with the high on-base percentage and well-rounded hitting that it needs. He has a .375 on-base percentage over the past three years which would add a significant boost to the franchise’s .329 team mark last year.