The Yankees and Orioles split a doubleheader in Baltimore on Monday, but the games were almost a sideshow—after all, we know what’s going to happen in the standings: one team is bound for the playoffs and one team the cellar. No, the real story is the sudden and curious entrance of the Yankees into the Manny Machado Sweepstakes.
A rash of reports over the weekend had the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Brewers as the frontrunners to rent the services of Machado, who at age 26 and headed into free agency is having the best season of his career. The Orioles would prefer to send the shortstop to the NL, if only to avoid having him swing back through Baltimore and remind fans that the team couldn’t hold onto its superstar. But GM Dan Duquette has said since last winter that he’d consider trading Machado to a divisional rival if that was the best offer. Majority owner Peter Angelos would “probably not” approve a trade to the Yankees or Red Sox, it was reported at the time, but the 89-year-old Angelos is having health issues and is no longer so active in the running of the team.
All of this seemed like a moot point, because the Yankees and Red Sox hadn’t shown much interest in acquiring Machado, as both have excellent rosters locked down for a while and both are pretty set with young talent on the left sides of their infields. (And both can just try to sign Machado in free agency, if they want, without giving up anything from their farm systems.)
That state of affairs appears to have changed rapidly on Monday. Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees are showing “increased interest” in Machado, and that if they want him, their farm system allows them to outbid every other team. MASN’s Roch Kubatko said they’ve reached out to the Orioles. The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina says the same, though no formal offer has been made. Jon Heyman says New York is perhaps interested in a package deal that would land Machado and closer Zach Britton.
More than anything else, this flood of reports might represent the Orioles wanting other teams to know the Yankees are involved. Because at first glance, the Yankees don’t really need Machado.
Didi Gregorius is an anchor at shortstop and still has an arbitration year left. Gleyber Torres is the frontrunner for rookie of the year and installed at second base, though shortstop remains his natural position. Rookie Miguel Andújar has been a revelation and seized the 3B job. Brandon Drury is still just 25 years old and the Yankees think very highly of him.
The most likely scenario—and this is pure speculation at this point—involves the Yankees reaching an understanding with Machado on a long-term extension and securing his willingness to move back to 3B, and trading Andújar, either to Baltimore in a Machado deal, or separately this winter. It would be a deal born from luxury, the luxury the Yankees have of a stacked farm system and deep pockets, but it’d certainly be an upgrade. (Andújar’s promise is exciting, but Manny Machado is Manny Machado. And, not for nothing, his righty bat would look real good against the Red Sox’s lefty-heavy rotation.)
It still wouldn’t address the Yankees’ biggest hole right now, that of starting pitching. But the deadline market for starters is pretty thin, and acquiring Machado would make the team better, both right now and for years to come, and they have the pieces to make it happen. So maybe it’s not so crazy after all.
Machado, for his part, doesn’t want to talk about the Yankees’ interest.
“If you want to talk me about something, then talk to me about the game,” he said. “Talk to me about something useful, not about rumors. I ain’t here to talk about rumors.”
Sorry, bud, no can do.