The Yankees need a third baseman, and may be trying to fill that hole with a three-time All-Star. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Bronx Bombers once again engaged the Baltimore Orioles in trade talks on 25-year-old third baseman Manny Machado late last week.
Heyman’s column, dated Jan. 5, reads:
The New York Yankees, apparently excited about the idea they could make their excellent winter even better and more star-studded, were back in contact with the Baltimore Orioles regarding Manny Machado this week, sources say…
The Yankees actually may have the best chance of several contenders to land Machado, but word still is that the Orioles haven’t been tempted by anything they’ve heard from anyone regarding the superstar infielder.
Machado will be a free agent after the 2018 season, and teams are weary of giving up premier talent without some assurance that he would consider signing a long-term extension wherever he ends up. He has already expressed interest in moving back to shortstop, the position where he played until being blocked in Baltimore by J.J. Hardy. Nevertheless, Machado won Gold Gloves at the hot corner in 2013 and 2015.
Offensively, Machado struggled in 2017. He managed to slash just .230/.296/.445 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs in 83 games before the All-Star break. He did not get any help from a .239 BABIP rate. The second-half was much improved, where he hit .290/.326/.500 and added another 15 home runs. All told, he put together a .259/.310/.471 (102 wRC+) line with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs.
The Orioles are said to want at least two MLB-ready pitchers in any trade package for Machado. For the Yankees, that would mean someone in the category of Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield or one of Domingo Acevedo/Albert Abreu. The Yanks have been pushing Adams as their top trade chip, hoping to keep the higher upside guys like Sheffield, Acevedo and Abreu. There are also reports (one from Joel Sherman) that the Orioles “actually like [Jacoby] Ellsbury a little,” though any trade would be complicated by his no-trade clause.
Though it would not be wise to count Brian Cashman out for any deal, it does not appear to be worth it for the Yankees to give up premier talent within their own division for only one guaranteed year of Machado. They appear comfortable with letting Miguel Andújar compete for the starting job out of Spring Training, and are keeping tabs on free agents like Todd Frazier and Eduardo Núñez.
In a perfect world, Andújar or a veteran on a 1-year deal hold down the hot corner in 2018, and Machado puts on the pinstripes for 2019. But, if it turns out that the Yankees do not need Machado, they can focus on signing top-level starting pitching or fill whatever holes may come up during the course of the season.