Odds for Best Landing Spots for Potential $300M Man Manny Machado
The 2018-19 MLB free-agent market is taking shape, meaning we can start calibrating odds on where the top stars will land.
Manny Machado is an interesting case. He's a generational talent entering his age-26 season who can play shortstop or third base. He's also "fresh" off a disappointing postseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he slashed .227/.278/.394 and exhibited questionable hustle.
Still, Machado could command a contract in excess of $300 million. One rocky playoff run doesn't erase the Hall of Fame-caliber career he's building.
Who will cut him that cartoonish check? Let's lay out odds for the top three serious suitors based on credible rumors, need and financial flexibility. First, though, we'll examine the teams with virtually no chance and a handful of dark-horse candidates.
Note: Odds are generated by Bleacher Report.
The Basically-No-Way Club: 99-1 Odds or Less
The following teams are either set at the positions Machado plays, lack the financial muscle to make a serious offer, have indicated a desire to shed payroll rather than add it or some combination of the three. In a few cases, clubs on this list could arguably toss all their available payroll at Machado but have other, far more pressing holes to fill.
It's worth noting the Dodgers certainly have the financial flexibility to bring him back after acquiring him from the Baltimore Orioles last July. But with shortstop Corey Seager set to return from Tommy John surgery and the bitter taste of Machado's World Series underperformance in their mouths, it's nearly impossible to imagine L.A. getting involved.
At any rate, for the reasons outlined above, here's the basically-no-way club:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies
- Detroit Tigers
- Houston Astros
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Miami Marlins
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Minnesota Twins
- New York Mets
- Oakland Athletics
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Texas Rangers
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Washington Nationals
The Dark-Horse Club: 19-1 Odds or Less
These teams are far from front-runners. But there are reasons to believe they could be on the fringe of the discussion:
The Diamondbacks might be listening to trade offers on All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and right-hander Zack Greinke, per Fancred Sports' Jon Heyman. That would seem to make them unlikely players for Machado.
Then again, with Goldschmidt entering his contract year, they could be looking to shed salary and make room for a Machado blockbuster. He'd sure be an improvement over incumbent shortstop Nick Ahmed's .234 average and .700 OPS.
The Atlanta Braves are riding high after blossoming ahead of schedule and winning the National League East in 2018. Could they consider a Machado splash to take them to the next level?
They're theoretically set on the left side of the infield with shortstop Dansby Swanson and third baseman Johan Camargo. Both are unproven, however, and Machado would help turn the Braves from intriguing risers to bona fide title contenders.
The Chicago Cubs, as ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers reported, either aren't interested in spending big this winter or are doing a very good job of "playing possum."
If it's the latter, they could sign Machado and shop shortstop Addison Russell, who was issued a troubling 40-game suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals will likely place their faith in shortstop Paul DeJong, who battled a fractured hand but hit 19 home runs in 115 games in 2018. They could use an upgrade at third base, however, where Jedd Gyorko posted a ho-hum .762 OPS.
The Cards owe Gyorko $13 million in 2019 ($5 million paid by the San Diego Padres) and may not have the payroll space to ink Machado. There's no question he'd help them chase down the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
Chicago White Sox: 4-1 Odds
Maybe it seems like the Chicago White Sox should be relegated to the dark-horse club. They're a rebuilding team that's spent the past few seasons stockpiling young talent and avoiding gaudy contracts. Hang on, though.
Per a report by MLB Network's Jon Morosi, Chicago could go after both Machado and fellow superstar free-agent Bryce Harper. In a weak American League Central, either or both of those players could make the up-and-coming White Sox instant contenders.
Chicago also has the second-lowest committed payroll for 2019, per Spotrac. If ownership and the front office want to splurge this winter, they can.
The more you consider it, the more it sounds like a distinct, stranger-things-have-happened possibility.
New York Yankees: 3-1 Odds
The New York Yankees' most acute need is starting pitching, and they may have to add bullpen pieces with the possible departure of free-agents David Robertson and Zach Britton.
That said, with shortstop Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery, there is a spot for Machado.
The Yankees set an all-time record for team home runs in 2018 with 267 and won 100 games. You could argue they don't need Machado to get over the hump.
On the other hand, as Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer recently argued, a Machado signing could allow New York to flip rising star third baseman Miguel Andujar for an ace.
Then there's a report by The Athletic's Jayson Stark (via colleague Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic) that the Yankees are doing "particularly extensive [background] work" on Machado.
It's no sure thing, but it's decidedly in play.
Philadelphia Phillies: 2-1 Odds
The Philadelphia Phillies are on the cusp of contending and have ample payroll space if they choose to spend. They've been linked extensively to Machado and Bryce Harper. They're aggressively shopping first baseman Carlos Santana in an effort to clear even more money, per Rosenthal.
None of that means the Phillies will sign Machado or Harper, let alone both. But they've got a potent combination of financial flex and a just-opening window of contention.
Yes, Philadelphia could roll with the combination of shortstop Scott Kingery and third baseman Maikel Franco. Kingery showed flashes in his rookie season but finished with a .226 average. Franco owns a .252/.303/.435 slash line in 533 games for the Phils. Neither player should prevent a move for Machado.
"They're a good ballclub. They're young, they're hungry, they want to win," Machado said of the Phillies prior to the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline, per MLB.com's Stephen Pianovich. "They've been impressive."
Those are just words. In the end, money will talk. But the Phils have the dough, plus the apparent goodwill, to be the favorites.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.