While the Red Sox have been relatively quiet this off-season since making a splash for Eovaldi, inking deals for the likes of Carson Smith and Erasmo Ramirez while avoiding arbitration with guys like Heath Hembree, the Yankees have been involved as potential spenders for the first time in a few years. Their primary target appears to be Manny Machado.
Before spending $86 million over 5 years to bring back Aroldis Chapman, the last 2 big spends the Yankees had in free agency were on Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka. While Ellsbury gave them an “ok” season or 2, and Tanaka hasn’t been bad (nor has he been the guy they paid for), its easy to understand why ownership became gun shy of just throwing around 9 figure deals left and right. They made some smart plays bringing back guys like Gardner. They traded for a huge contract in Giancarlo Stanton. However, even the trade for Stanton is hard to hate considering the potential of that lineup, even after a disappointing 2018 by his standards.
So are the Yankees about to get back to their spending ways? Let’s take a look at what’s going on in New York.
Tulo deal means nothing, but was a great move for the Yankees
Let’s get one thing straight, the Tulowitzki deal was a no-risk, great move by the New York Yankees. I hate that this happened. Tulo impressed in his showcase to the point that there were at least 10 teams interested in bringing him in. The fact that he went to the Yankees says something to me. He’s hungry. And a hungry and healthy Tulowitzki with Yankees Stadium in his backyard to boost his confidence is not something we should be happy to deal with. While in limited plate appearances here are his numbers over the last 5 seasons:
Vs. Eovaldi (14 PA): .308/.357/.615/.973
Vs. Price (12 PA): .455/.500/.909/1.409
He also has very solid numbers at Yankees Stadium in his career: .317/.348/.492/.841 with 3 home runs in 66 plate appearances. Even his .773 OPS against Sale is respectable when considering it’s Chris Sale. This move made too much sense for the Yankees but has nothing to do with the Manny Machado discussion in my opinion.
Machado to New York starting to make sense
Troy Tulowitzki is a nice security blanket and further leverage for the Yankees in Manny Machado discussions. The Yankees probably sold Tulowitzki on that he would still have playing time if they sign Machado, because I think their goal would be to then move Andujar via trade for more pitching and put Tulowitzki at shortstop until Gregorious is healthy. Even then, the Yankees could take their pick of who looks better and is healthy between Tulo and Didi. Machado would be a third baseman in New York for 2019. If Gregorious leaves after 2019, the Yankees could put Machado back at SS or have the option of resigning Tulowitzki and sticking with the tandem if it works. The Yankees could still convince Machado they would probably move him to SS the following season. If they resign Gregorious, Machado can stay at 3B long-term.
The combination of signings and the trading for Paxton and possible trade of Andujar, whether in talks for starting pitching or additional prospect depth, all make sense when looking at the big picture. The Yankees only have 5 guaranteed contracts leading into 2020 for $104 million. For some teams this is a lot, but considering the rising luxury tax thresholds, this is going to give the Yankees a lot of room to work. They can afford to make it 6 contracts for $135 million or so in commitments and still have $100 million to play with (even after arbitrations) should they choose to blow past the thresholds in 2020. They will find a way to move a few dollars around to avoid penalties if they desire to do so in 2019.
What’s the Machado deal going to look like when it happens
I don’t think the Yankees are going 10 years and $300 million for Manny Machado. The good news for them is, I think he hurt his value enough with his antics that they won’t have to. This to me, is indisputable. Even with any explanation he might give, you can’t unsee what you saw and unhear what you heard. This was a clear attitude problem and teams are letting Manny know it with his offers. It sounds like Manny Machado has a formal offer in from the White Sox, However, Bob Nightengale reports while its a serious offer, its likely closer to $200 million then $300 million. If Machado is going to take less money, don’t you think it would be for New York with Judge, Stanton, Sanchez and Torres (and maybe Andujar)?
I think the deal is going to look something like 7 years at a $32-34 million AAV. It will be enough for Boras to convince Machado he won and went where he wanted to go. It will be higher then reports seem to believe the White Sox are willing to go. The best part is, if you add an opt-out after year 3 like the Red Sox did with David Price, maybe he has some great years and you can make a new decision in a few years. I believe these opt-outs are like gold for big market teams. The player feels like they won but the team is really cheering because it knows there’s a potential the deal is a shorter term. I don’t think there’s much to lose with an opt-out from the team perspective on this deal. This is why you see so many of them floating around these days.
What happened to the Phillies?
The Phillies seem to me to want Bryce Harper based on all the reports (Bob Nightengale’s report also confirms this detail). They plan to spend stupid money but they are not both going to Philly as Scott Boras hinted. The Phillies were always the pawns. Both players have let it be known, accidentally or otherwise, that they are not impressed with Philadelphia or the organization. Scott Boras was always hoping that the Phillies involvement would drive up the price, but this won’t work as long as teams don’t believe the players will go there unless they put up significantly more resources. This allows the Yankees and White Sox to battle it out at 6-7 year deals and just hope the Phillies and their “stupid money” don’t come flying out of nowhere with a 10 year $350 million dollar deal for Machado. If anything, this will be the battle for the 8th year between the Yankees and White Sox, with both players likely preferring to go to New York, giving the Yankees further leverage.
Wildcard “mystery teams” in play?
I do think there are a few teams doing diligence that are not making it publicly known or setting up in-person interviews at this point in time. The Nationals, Red Sox, Astros and many other contenders are all pretty well set at 3B for 2019, making it hard for them to get involved. Even if Boston wanted to, they wouldn’t due to luxury tax penalties. The Braves are an interesting fit to me. They would have to make some moves to accommodate Machado, but I could see a deal of Dansby Swanson (though the Braves have said he’s not on the block) and a surprise Machado signing to anchor the lineup. My hunch is that Machado did not demonstrate the type of effort that the Braves would like to see from a guy they’d need to be a veteran presence in the clubhouse and this makes them very reluctant to hand out a long-term deal. However, at 6-7 year deals, they might not be able to resist surprising everyone with an 8 year deal if Machado can convince them he can be that guy they need him to be.
Bryce Harper to Philadelphia – Manny Machado to New York
Philadelphia will go all-in on Harper. They have been waiting for this day, licking their chops at their nemesis Nationals and they are not going to let it pass. #StupidMoney will be the hashtag of the year. Scott Boras is bringing the Nationals back in because that is the best way to raise the price tag. Reports have it that he went straight to the owner, as he often does in these situations. Philadelphia is going to bid against itself, already well above the mark that the Nationals are willing to go. Machado will have to settle for 7 years in New York. Someone will offer him the 8th year at a lesser AAV, but he will go to New York out of desire to be there.
Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my predictions!