Everyone’s connecting Manny Machado to the Yankees since Didi Gregorius’ surprise untimely elbow injury was revealed. And there’s probably good reason to do so.
The Yankees may play down their interest in Machado, but they have tried for him before, and even tried for him when Rookie of the Year candidate Miguel Andujar was playing well while manning third and Gregorius was healthy and thriving. So why not believe the Yankees may make a big play for Machado?
GM Brian Cashman is expected to start their organizational meetings soon, and Machado surely will be a big issue to discuss. They’ve seen his immense talent on display this postseason, just as they did up close and in division for six years. But like others they may have concerns about the side issues that have surfaced this postseason (more on this to come here at Fancred Sports).
The Phillies have been seen as a possible landing spot for Machado, and the Cardinals are also seen as a possible fit, but the Yankees may have one major advantage in any pursuit: People close to Machado suggest the Yankees are likely his first choice, as we wrote here weeks ago.
The Yankees have reset their luxury tax rate after playing this year under the tax threshold, which gives them another opportunity to be a major player on the market this winter. And while starting pitching is very likely their top priority, they love major stars and could now use Machado.
Gregorius is expected be back somewhere in the middle of next season, but there are no guarantees. As noted surgeon Neal ElAttrache said (though not speaking of the Gregorius case in particular), while position players take a shorter period of time on the average to return to play in major league games, a shortstop’s need to make big throws from all angles means you have to be careful.
The Yankees could also look for an outfielder (they are unlikely to pick up Brett Gardner’s $12.5 million option), and might consider first base (Paul Goldschmidt is expected to be available, along with all the other Diamondbacks) and perhaps even a catcher if they think 2018 is an indicator of where Gary Sanchez’s career is headed. But there’s certainly room for Machado now, with Gregorius’ exact return date unknown (and him being a free agent at the end of 2019).
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.