The Yankees Need to Pull the Trigger On a Manny Machado Trade

Meet the newest member in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the New York Yankees. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman of FanCred reported that the Yankees made a “very strong offer” for Machado. To add more drama into this situation, Machado liked a picture on Instagram of him in a Yankees jersey. Many question if the 60-31 Yankees should trade a big package of prospects to land a superstar in Machado, who is a free agent at the end of the year, when they seem to be fine without him. However, the Yankees need to take advantage of the opportunity to land a superstar in Machado, and get a deal done with the Orioles.

What position Machado would play with the Yankees is a major question in analyzing his fit with them. After playing third base for the first five seasons of his career, he moved back to shortstop, where he played in the minors. He has stated several times that he wishes to remain at shortstop, so that’s the most likely case scenario here. That means most likely he’d be replacing Didi Gregorius at shortstop. This gives the Yankees three options in a trade for Machado. They could trade Gregorious and prospects to the Orioles, they could trade young third baseman Miguel Andujar and a couple lower level prospects to the Orioles and move Gregorious to third, or center a trade around their top prospect in outfielder Estevan Florial. The most logical option would be to trade Gregorious and mid tier prospects to Baltimore. Even though the Orioles aren’t in win now mode by any means (hence why they’re trading Machado), they may still value Gregorious as their potential shortstop of the future, or they can simply trade him for more prospects. In logical for the Yankees, as they trade Gregorious (doesn’t matter because they have Machado) and a couple mid tier prospects they can afford to give up in a rich farm system. Regardless of what position Machado plays, he’ll almost certainly bat third in what would be the best lineup in the MLB.

Here are two potential lineups for the Yankees with Machado

If he plays short:

Brett Gardner LF

Aaron Judge RF

Manny Machado SS

Giancarlo Stanton DH

Gary Sanchez C

Greg Bird 1B

Aaron Hicks CF

Miguel Andujar 3B
Gleyber Torres 2B

If he plays third:
Brett Gardner LF

Aaron Judge RF

Manny Machado 3B

Giancarlo Stanton DH

Didi Gregorious SS

Gary Sanchez C

Greg Bird 1B

Aaron Hicks CF

Gleyber Torres 2B

Assuming Machado plays short, he’ll be replacing a valuable contributor in Didi Gregorius. However, Machado is an all around much better player than Gregorious. Machado is hitting .314/.383/.573 with 23 home runs, while Gregorius is only hitting .260/.322/.460 with 15 home runs. Machado also has a much higher win probability added (WPA) than Gregorius, as he has a 2.15 WPA compared to Gregorious’ 0.34 WPA. While Machado has struggled defensively by the metrics, Gregorious has to with a -1 drs. So the difference between the two defensively is marginal if there is any. Even if Gregorious is a slightly better player, Machado is the far superior offensive player and therefore is the more valuable player.

Didi Gregorious is a solid player, but nowhere near the player Machado is Photo Cred: Sporting News

If Machado decides to move back to third base, he’ll be replacing Miguel Andujar. Andujar is having a solid rookie season, hitting .279/.313/.495 with 12 home runs. Obviously, Machado is the much better offensive player. Andujar is a liability defensively as he already has -12 defensive runs saved (drs), which puts him on pace for an atrocious -22 drs. Machado on the other hand, had 6 drs when playing third base a season ago. As expected, Andujar WPA of 0.29 is much lower than Machado’s 2.15. Yes, Andujar is a young player who is still developing player. However, he’d be lucky to develop into half the player that Machado is.

Miguel Andujar is a promising player, but he’d be lucky to develop into half the player that Machado is Photo Cred: NY Post

For the short term, this would easily make the Yankees the best team in baseball. Not only is Machado a clear upgrade over whoever he replaces, he’d make the rest of the lineup better. Currently, pitchers only throw 39.1% of their pitches in the strike zone when facing Aaron Judge. For Giancarlo Stanton, that total drops to 37.6%. Assuming Manny Machado hits third and Aaron Judge hits second, Judge will get a lot more pitches to hit because he has a superstar in Machado waiting behind him. Stanton will then get more pitches to hit because he’ll almost certainly have more chances to hit with runners on base. Machado also brings balance to what is currently a one dimensional lineup. The Yankees lineup is currently in the top ten in strikeouts. Aaron Judge strikes out in 30.8% of his at bats, while Giancarlo Stanton strikes out in 31.3% of his at bats. On the contrary, Machado strikes out in only 12.8% of his at bats. The Yankees have been looking for someone to hit in between Judge and Stanton all year, and Machado would be that guy. He’d also help them in crucial situations, something the Yankees sluggers have struggled in. Judge has a -1.15 Clutch Rating and had a -3.64 Clutch Rating last year, while Stanton has a -1.32 Clutch Rating this year and had a -1.61 Clutch Rating last season. Machado on the other hand had a 1.44 Clutch Rating last year. Hitting in crucial situations is huge come playoff time, and Machado does that exceptionally well compared to Judge and Stanton.

Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have negative Clutch Ratings, while Machado had 1.44 Clutch Rating a year and has a positive one this season as well Photo Cred: NY Post

For the long term, there are some red flags. First off, Machado is a free agent at the end of the year, so many teams are hesitant to trade top prospects for a so called “rental” with no guarantee he’d resign. That’s a legitimate argument for many teams, but not for the Yankees. Not only did Machado like a photo of him in a Yankees jersey on Instagram, probably a hint that he wants the Yankees to trade for him, he’s told those close to him that the Yankees are “clearly his first choice” in free agency. An extra two to three months to convince Machado to sign long term would likely be the final straw in getting a deal done. After playing in a small market in Baltimore, he clearly wants to go to a bigger market, and New York is as big of a market as there is. While this may cause some financial issues long term with the luxury tax, the Yankees are clearly not shy of paying this. The main issue with going over the luxury tax to an extreme is that the Yankees’ first round pick would drop ten spots. However, the Yankees will almost certainly be picking in the late 20s in the first round for the next ten years, so does going down from 30 to 40 make that much of a difference? Especially considering with a superstar in Machado who is in his prime, they’d be the World Series favorite for the next five to ten years. If they were going to make a big financial commitment, it should definitely be in the lineup because they have a lot of pitching prospects but no good position player prospects besides outfielder Estevan Florial, who still can be slated in as the team’s long term center fielder. So while a Machado trade doesn’t make sense long term for several teams, it certainly does for the Yankees.

Manny Machado liked a jersey swap of him in a Yankees jersey on Instagram Photo Cred:

Manny Machado is a once in a generation type player who is a player almost every team would love to build their team around. He clearly wants to go the Yankees, so it’s up to them to go trade for him now. We’ve seen before in the sports world where a player at one point wants to go to a team, but then falls in love with a different team he is traded to. Look at the NBA, where star player Paul George came out and said he wanted to be a Los Angeles Laker. The Lakers didn’t trade for him right then, and instead George was traded to Oklahoma City Thunder. A year later, George ended up falling in love with the Thunder’s culture and resigned long term. So the lesson here for the Yankees is to not end up like the Lakers, and go out and get their guy now to make certain they are able to have him long term. As soon as they get Machado, the Yankees will be the next MLB dynasty, mark my words. Think Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors.

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