The uncertainty surrounding the Manny Machado market suddenly has Yankees fans imploring to get back in the race for the 26-year-old All-Star infielder.
A report on Wednesday from ESPN’s Buster Olney claimed that the Chicago White Sox, considered to be the favorites in the sweepstakes, have offered Machado a seven-year, $175 million deal. While his agent Dan Lozano denied those reports as he continues to look for a way to get his client a $300 million deal, any sort of validity to Olney’s report could completely change the landscape of the market.
That would include possibly seeing the Yankees re-enter the fray as major players.
New York was one of only three teams that had interviewed Machado back in December, along with the White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. But general manager Brian Cashman and Yankees ownership made it clear that the Yankees were not going to take on another exorbitant contract a la Giancarlo Stanton. If the market swayed the right way, then the Yankees would consider a serious chase.
Well, the market might be swaying in that perfect way.
Should the Yankees decide to circle back to Machado, they’ll have to do some tweaking to their infield. At the moment, the Yankees are plenty covered after signing Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu to help fill in for the recovering Didi Gregorius.
With Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar at second and third base respectively, Tulowitzki at the moment is penciled in as the starting shortstop on the Yankees’ official depth chart. The veteran, though, was brought in on a league minimum and it wouldn’t be too difficult a task to cut him should New York find reinforcements in the form of Machado.
The Yankees would then be able to slot Machado in at third base, move Torres to shortstop while Gregorius recovers and make LeMahieu, the 2016 NL batting champion, the starting second baseman.
But what would the Yankees do with Andujar?
While they’ve bolstered a ridiculously strong bullpen even further with the signing of Adam Ottavino on Thursday, the Yankees’ starting rotation still remains a serious question mark.
It remains to be seen if they have a true ace of the rotation after Luis Severino’s miserable second half of the 2018 season. They brought in James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners to help lighten the load, but the 30-year-old is a fly-ball pitcher in a hitter-friendly ballpark who has never pitched in more than 160.1 innings during a single season.
Picking up a true ace would further cement the Yankees as a bonafide World Series contender and take the pressure off Severino and Paxton to carry the starting rotation.
This is where Andujar comes in.
The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up’s name has been mentioned on the trade market multiple times this offseason, most notably as a possible asset that would have helped the Yankees get Noah Syndergaard from the crosstown-rival Mets.
At 23 years old, he’ll fetch a hefty return should the Yankees make him available seeing as he batted .297 with 27 home runs and 47 doubles. That kind of return could yield a true ace like Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians, a franchise that has floated the two-time Cy Young Award winner’s name out there this winter.
The 32-year-old has won at least 18 games in four of the last five seasons while his ERA during that stretch has been a cool 2.85. He’s also under team control until 2021.
Andujar is the kind of MLB-ready talent that should at least catch the interest of the Indians. Throw in another prospect and the Indians would be silly to turn down such a strong return.