The hype around Manny Machado’s impending free agency is certainly substantial, the 26 year old Floridian native has been an impact player ever since his MLB debut in 2012 for the then competitive Baltimore Orioles. He has consistently been an elite defender at primarily the hot corner during his career, but has upped his defensive value by playing shortstop during the 2018 season. His bat has certainly been no slouch either in his career. He is a career .282 hitter with an .822 OPS (On Base plus Slugging). The MLB position player average OPS is .725. He is also a 4 time All-Star. This is to say that Machado is a consistently above average offensive player, and certainly more so in recent seasons in the power department.
There is no question that Machado is a star player hitting the Free Agent Market at a remarkably young age. At age 26, it is conceivable that he hasn’t yet reached his “prime” years, and that’s a scary thought for opposing teams. So it only makes sense that the Yankees swoop in and sign Machado to a lucrative deal likely north of $300 million dollars, right? Not so fast! The Yankees already have a solid core of young controllable infielders which include Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Luke Voit, and even the disappointing Greg Bird.
To complicate matters, Didi Gregorious just after the season ended had Tommy John Surgery on his throwing elbow. It is a stark reality that Didi will miss substantial time next season, but this does not mean the Yankees should throw money at the problem! Even without Didi, the Yankees have an excellent offense anchored by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Miguel Andujar and a cast of others. By signing Machado, the Yankees would be essentially giving up on Miguel Andujar who has already shown an incredible penchant for hitting. There is no doubt that Andujar’s defense is suspect, but he is still only 23 years old and can almost certainly shore up that part of his game in time. Machado will require a commitment that takes him til at least the age of 36. Knowing this, is Machado’s obvious superiority in the fielding department worth $30 million dollars annually? The answer is no. Stick with the affordable, high upside player in Miguel Andujar and spend that Machado money elsewhere, more particularly the starting pitching.
During the 2018 regular season, the Yankees ranked 10th best of 30 teams in ERA (Earned Run Average) with a 3.78 team ERA. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, but when you look at the teams that made the playoffs, all but two of them (the Rockies and Athletics) had better team ERA’s than the Yankees. This reared its ugly head in the playoffs, the Yankee starters simply could not give any length and it ultimately cost them. With the exception of consistent postseason performer Masahiro Tanaka, everyone else, JA Happ, CC Sabathia, and Luis Severino could not navigate through opposing lineups.
This offseason, there are a multitude of available Free Agent Starting Pitchers that could transform the look of the Yankees rotation. As of now, there are only two locks in the Yankees rotation next year, those players are Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino. The other 3 spots are wide open considering JA Happ, CC Sabathia, and Lance Lynn are all to be Free Agents following the conclusion of the World Series. The Yankees will mull whether to re-sign any of those three. But aside from those starters, The Astro’s former Cy Young Winner Dallas Keuchel (Age 30) is a Free Agent. The southpaw is coming off a modest year in which he posted a 3.74 ERA and over 200 innings pitched. A solid option, and certainly a pitcher who can give you innings, something the Yankees sorely lack. Keuchel is a solid option for most any team, but the most highly coveted Free Agent Starter is none other than New York born Patrick Corbin. Corbin is a southpaw just like Keuchel, but is one year younger at age 29. his numbers this year were excellent, he posted a 3.15 ERA in 200 innings for the Diamondbacks. Not to mention, it is well documented he has a desire to be a New York Yankee. It seems to be an obvious match. The Yankees desperately need a top tier starter to put atop their rotation in a playoff series, and Corbin fits that bill. A 5 year deal is realistic at something just north of $100 million dollars, which the Yankees will certainly have to spend. Even after signing Corbin, they shouldn’t stop there, there are quite a few other Free Agent Starters worth a look, like Charlie Morton of the Astro’s.
The game plan for the Yankees offseason should be simple- improve the starting rotation. Manny Machado is an excellent player, but the thought of the Yankees signing Machado is gluttonous. The Yankees have the position players to get it done. With the Yankees resetting the luxury tax this past season, they are well positioned to be heavy suitors for the leagues top Free Agent Starters. Get it done Cashman…
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