Red Sox Need Manny Machado Blockbuster to Fix Offense, Block Him From Yankees

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24:  Manny Machado #13 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

Once upon a time, Manny Machado and the Boston Red Sox hated each other. Or, at least, it sure looked that way.

We'll get into the particulars of the feud later. First, a proposition: It's time for Boston to put differences aside and make Machado the centerpiece of its lineup.

Bury the hatchet, fix the offense.

The rumor comes courtesy of MLB Network's Jon Morosi, who reported on Dec. 29 the Red Sox were "showing continued trade interest" in the Baltimore Orioles' third baseman.

Machado's name has churned through the rumor mill all offseason. He would be a one-year rental, as he's set to hit free agency next winter and will surely test the market, but he's also one of the best players in baseball.

Not surprisingly, he's been linked to a number of clubs. There's been chatter about the Chicago Cubs and scuttlebutt surrounding the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals

Oh, and don't forget the New York Yankees, who "may have the best chance of several contenders to land Machado," according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman

That makes two good reasons for the Red Sox to acquire Machado: Fix the offense and keep him the hell away from the Yankees.

Nick Wass/Associated Press

To the first point: Despite winning the American League East in 2017, the Red Sox finished with the fewest home runs and fifth-worst OPS in the Junior Circuit. They have a solid young core centered around outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, but they could use a game-changing bat.

Machado, a three-time All-Star who's hit 33 or more homers in each of the last three seasons, fits the bill. He's also a plus defender who can man third base or shortstop and is entering his prime at age 25.

If you like WAR, Machado ranks 10th in the game in that category since 2015, according to FanGraphs' measure. 

He's a stud, capital "S," who'd make any team measurably better in the field and in the batter's box.

He won't come free. If you believe a report by MASN's Roch Kubatko, the Orioles rejected an offer from the Cubs that included shortstop Addison Russell, center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery. That's three quality big leaguers.

If the ask is that high, perhaps a trade won't happen—to the Red Sox or anyone else.

Yet, Boston is in a win-now window and engaged in a burgeoning arms race with the Yankees, who have already added National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton this winter. 

New York has a hole at third base and the prospects to swing a swap for Machado. He could pair with Stanton, AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez to form a middle-of-the-order gauntlet on par with the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig-fronted Murderers' Row of the 1920s.

Needless to say, the Red Sox don't want that.

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Much as it would hurt, Boston could build a package around shortstop Xander Bogaerts that might entice the Orioles. They'd then plug Machado in at short, with Rafael Devers manning third, and give the Yanks a run for their money in 2018.

It's a short-term strategy, yes, but with a roster built to compete in the present and a trio of recent titles in its pocket, Boston can and should shoot for the moon.

So far, all the team has done is re-sign first baseman Mitch Moreland and kick the tires on outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will be overpaid after a huge 2017 season. That's not enough.

"We not only have to beat the Yankees, we have to beat the [Houston] Astros, the world champs, because our goal is to not only win our division but to be the world champs," executive Dave Dombrowski said at the December winter meetings, per MLB.com's Ian Browne

Machado would make that lofty goal exponentially more likely, whatever impact a trade for him would have on the Red Sox's future.  

Now, about that feud. 

In April, Machado took out Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with an aggressive slide, spiking the beloved Boston infielder's calf in the process. Two days later, Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw a fastball at Machado's head.

Barnes was suspended, and Machado was later showered with boos at Fenway Park. 

Still, a change of uniforms can erase a lot of negative memories. And it's worth noting Pedroia and Machado appeared to make amends on the field after Barnes' attempted beanball. 

Some Red Sox fans will balk at the notion of adding Machado—for the potential price tag, his status as a rental and the bad blood.

Again, though, Boston is among a handful of clubs that should be focused squarely on the here and now. This season could be an epic chapter in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, and Machado would be one heck of a character. 

That's Dombrowski's directive: Keep him out of pinstripes, bring him to Beantown. Bury the hatchet, ratchet up the drama.

                 

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

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