Could the Blue Jays have a shot at signing anny Machado? And if they did, would they want him?
Many writers have been surprised at the lack of love for Manny Machacho shown by teams so far. The latest offer – reputedly 7 years and $175 million – is less than half the 13/$390m predicted by MLB Trade Rumors at the beginning of the offseason.
Now, Machado is an excellent player and there is still time for a team to step up, so it is entirely possible that Manny will get his $300m+ in the end. But spring training is fast approaching, and the question looms: what if he doesn’t?
Which begs another question (play the game of “what if” with me!). Suppose Dan Lozano told the Jays that if they put a 10 year, $250 mil offer on the table, Manny would sign with them right now. Should they do it?
The case for
Machado is a beast. His 21.7 WAR over the last four seasons is the 9th highest in baseball (hitters) and he plays both shortstop and third base. As Ross Atkins said about Bryce Harper, “He would fit well in between Bichette and Vladdy at some point, there’s no question”. And the Jays can afford him.
The case against
There is hopefully no room for Manny to play third base for the Jays for the foreseeable future, so he would have to play short. Good news for him, as this is his preferred position. But it raises questions for the Jays. First, because Machado’s performance at SS was troubling in 2018 – he had a -13 DRS and a -7 UZR/150, both “not good”. And second, the Jays have a number of talented young shortstops coming up through the system, starting with Bo Bichette. Moving Bo (or Jordan Groshans, or Kevin Smith) off of shortstop to accommodate Machado would significantly decrease their value.
Then there is the financial argument. The $25 million-ish that the Jays would pay to Manny in 2019 and 2020 would largely be wasted, as it is unlikely (though not impossible) that the Jays could contend in those years. Some might argue that the Jays would be better off to save that money, and to use it for free agent pitching (a greater need?) rather than another hitter.
The opt-out would also likely be an issue. If Machado did sign with Toronto, he would very likely demand some form of opt-out at some point in the contract. This would protect him in case the Jays turned out to not be competitive. But this is exactly what the Jays would not want. To pay his salary in the rebuilding years only to lose him when they are ready to contend would be a worst-case scenario – but a scenario that could very easily happen.
And finally, there is the character elephant in the room. Machado’s comments about “not being Johnny Hustle” are troubling in themselves, and doubly troubling to a team that would have a large number of young players taking their lead from Manny. If, as he said, he is “not going to change” the Jays could rightly be concerned about the effect he would have on Vladdy and Bo and Danny Jansen, and Nate Pearson, and, and, and..
The bottom line
I admit, I am torn. At his best, Machado is one of the best players in the game. And the idea of tying up a potential future Hall-of-Famer through his prime years is more than mildly attractive. But the fit is imperfect, and the character questions are scary. I suspect that, if I were making the decision, it would come down to the price. 10 years/$300m with multiple opt-outs would be a non-starter, but 10/$250 with no opt-outs for the first five years (or a highly back-loaded contract) would at least make me think hard about it.