The Yankees don’t need Manny Machado or Bryce Harper to win the World Series. But signing one of them (or both of them as I wanted) sure would have given them a better chance to.
The Yankees won’t be signing Machado after he agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. Harper is still available, but with the Yankees being even less connected to Harper than they were to Machado all offseason, it looks like the Yankees are going to pass on both 26-year-old generational talents.
I spent the last few years waiting for this free-agent class like many Yankees fans, thinking 2019 would be the first chance in seven years the team would legitimately contend for a title. When the 2016 trade deadline ended, no one envisioned the Yankees getting within a win of the World Series in 2017 or winning 100 games in 2018, but these Yankees arrived two seasons early, giving Yankees fans two unexpected years of contention and seemingly two extra years of this current window of opportunity. With so many young stars and proven major league talent on cheap contracts, everyone thought the goal of getting under the luxury-tax threshold in 2018 was so the team could blow past it for 2019. They went past it this offseason, but they didn’t blow past it like they could have.
I’m not upset about the Yankees not signing Machado. I would have been upset if Machado ended up with the White Sox or Phillies or somewhere else for $175 million or $200 million or even $250 million, but the fact he got the $300 million he was expected to get makes it hurt less. Couple that with him now playing for the Padres in the NL West and it doesn’t hurt at all. Other than signing with the Yankees and performing like an MVP candidate through his prime, him signing with the Padres is the next best thing. He’s out of the division and out of the American League completely, and I only have to worry about him beating the Yankees every three years as opposed to six, seven or 19 times a year.
For Machado, it’s an incredible deal. He received the number many thought he would before this long and painful free-agent season occurred. It’s the largest free-agent contract in the history of North American sports, and if he doesn’t care about being in a big market and playing in big games, it’s the perfect situation. He can live by the water, in perfect weather, never playing meaningful games and not have to worry about his own fans booing him or sports radio hosts and bloggers picking apart every at-bat of his. Getting a guaranteed $300 million to play baseball in San Diego with no expectations shouldn’t be every player’s dream, it should be every person’s dream.
I wanted Machado because he’s a 26-year-old star, who plays both shortstop and third base and has owned the AL East with his bat, and the Yankees would have had him for his entire prime. The Yankees didn’t need Machado, but they could have afforded him just like every team in the league could have afforded him, despite what front offices and ownership throughout the majors wants fans to believe. The Padres of all teams were able to afford him. He would have been a luxury rather than a necessity on a team that is just beginning its window of opportunity to win a championship, and the Yankees have always been about adding luxuries, or at least they used to be.
Four months ago, it seemed inevitable I would be watching Machado play for the Yankees. Now I’ll get to see him play against the Yankees three times this season and then again in three years and three years after that. If he can’t be a Yankee, that’s the next best thing.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!
The book details my life as a Yankees fan, growing up watching Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams through my childhood and early adulthood and the shift to now watching Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and others become the latest generation of Yankees baseball. It’s a journey through the 2017 postseason with flashbacks to games and moments from the Brian Cashman era.
Click here to purchase the book through Amazon as an ebook. You can read it on any Apple device by downloading the free Kindle app.