The New York Yankees want Manny Machado. Reports surfaced Wednesday that the Yankees have made an offer to the Baltimore Orioles about their superstar, free-agent-to-be shortstop. But wait, don’t the Yankees need starting pitching? They could certainly use a starter, but to ignore Machado in favor a lesser player would be a mistake. In fact, the Yankees need Manny Machado if they want to put themselves in the best position to win the World Series. Let’s break down all the reasons they need him and should want him.
They Don’t Need A Quality Starter
First, let’s diffuse the idea that they need to be all in on starting pitching. The struggles of the rotation are pretty much exclusive to Sonny Gray, who has greatly underachieved. Entering Thursday, they are 52-21 when Gray does not start. That’s a .712 winning percentage or a 115-win season. They are a ridiculous 39-5 when a starter goes six innings. They don’t need a No. 2-type starter. It’s all about Sonny Gray’s struggles, not the starters as a whole. They don’t need to go all in on starting pitching to find a suitable upgrade or put themselves in a better position to win games.
Additionally, Yankees have the best bullpen in the majors. The current collection of relievers the Yankees employ is possibly the most talented ever assembled. They have the bullpen every contender can only wish for. The 2015 Kansas City Royals had terrible starting pitching and won the World Series. The 2016 Cleveland Indians were a win away from the title even though Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were on the disabled list.
Starting pitching did not finish the Yankees last season in the playoffs, it was an offense that struggled in Houston, scoring only three runs in four games. They could have used more offense. The 2009 Yankees and 2017 Houston Astros showed what a formidable lineup could mean in October. Adding Machado would give the Yankees that type of formidable lineup.
He’s The Best Player Available
One of the fallacies of team building is that when a team looks to add to a position of weakness, they ignore other possible avenues for improvement. The Yankees, thankfully, did not succumb to this in the 2017-18 offseason. Their pursuit of high-end starting pitching, whether it was Shohei Ohtani or Gerrit Cole, did not materialize. They pivoted to Giancarlo Stanton, even though they already had the big league’s best outfield in terms of fWAR in 2017, AL MVP runner-up Aaron Judge in right field and plenty of talented right-handed hitters in the organization. Stanton is redundant, but he makes the Yankees better because he is a great player, and that is all that matters.
It’s the same situation with Manny Machado. The four-time All-Star is right-handed, hits for power and plays both shortstop and third base. The Yankees already have Didi Gregorius at short and one of the better rookie hitters, Miguel Andujar, playing third. Adding Machado makes the team better because Machado is the best player available.
Andujar Shouldn’t Block Machado
Miguel Andujar has established himself as a fine hitter. He has a .279/.313/.495 slash line with a 117 wRC+. Those are excellent marks for a rookie hitter. The problem is that he doesn’t play much defense and that Machado is simply a much better player right now. Arguably, Machado would represent a bigger upgrade for the team than displacing German or Gray from the rotation because Machado is one of the premier position players in the sport.
The Yankees have been saving money over the last few offseasons is preparation for the 2018-19 free agent class. It’s the big reason why they stayed under the $197 million luxury tax. They have set themselves up for a run at Machado in the offseason if they wish to do so and it looks like that will be the case. This is a reason that comes up in why the Yankees should not trade for Machado because why give up prospects when they could sign him to a contract a few months later?
The answer is that they could potentially be giving themselves an edge against other potential suitors in the winter by having him on the team to finish the 2018 season. The reason the Arizona D’Backs could not re-sign J.D. Martinez was that they did not have enough money and were not convinced he was worth what he would eventually receive from the Boston Red Sox. That will not be an issue for the Yankees and Machado.
The Yankees, as currently constructed, may not be better than the Red Sox. Adding one of the best starters available, such as J.A. Happ, may help, but not as much as Machado would. If the Yankees want to field the best team possible and put themselves in a better position in the future, it includes Manny Machado.
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