Two months after losing shortstop Corey Seager to season-ending Tommy John surgery in May, the Los Angeles Dodgers made the summer’s biggest splash by acquiring Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a hefty package of five prospects.
Machado, one of baseball’s best shortstops in recent seasons, represented the best possible acquisition Los Angeles could’ve made to fill the void of Seager.
In 96 previous games with the Orioles, Machado tore the cover off the ball to the tune of a .315/.387/.575 slash line over 413 plate appearances. His presence further lengthened the Dodgers lineup and gave the club another formidable power threat.
Machado made his Dodgers debut on July 20 against the Milwaukee Brewers, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks in what amounted to a 6-4 victory at Miller Park. He finished the month of July with a superb .323/.432/.586 slash line in 27 games, tallying six doubles and six home runs across 118 plate appearances between the Orioles and Dodgers.
Machado became one of only two regulars in a lineup that played against both left and right-handed pitching, joining third baseman Justin Turner. The 26-year-old saw his production dip a bit over the final two months of the regular season, but that was expected with his move from the hitter-friendly Camden Yards to Dodger Stadium.
He nevertheless entered the postseason on a strong note and was excited to take part in October baseball for only the third time in his career.
Machado got off to a slow start in his first taste of playoff baseball with the Dodgers. He struggled against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series, but came through when it mattered most in the deciding Game 4 with a pair of extra-base hits that propelled Los Angeles to a road win.
Machado’s bat returned to norm in the NL Championship Series, but it was his on-field antics that garnered the most attention. Particularly in Game 4, when he appeared to have intentionally tripped Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar on the base paths.
Machado eventually got past the incident and helped the Dodgers advance to their second consecutive World Series. Like most of his teammates, he struggled at the plate and hit only .182 in five games.
Machado represented the final out of the Fall Classic when he struck out against Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale.
In Game 4 of the NLDS, Machado slugged a three-run home run off Braves right-hander Chad Sobotka in the seventh inning that opened the floodgates for Los Angeles.
The blast gave the Dodgers a comfortable four-run cushion as they went on to defeat Atlanta, 6-2, and advance to their third consecutive NLCS.
Machado was one of seven Dodgers players to become a free agent the morning after the World Series concluded.
As what was initially speculated when he was first acquired, Machado’s stay in Los Angeles isn’t expected to extend past the 2018 season.
He’s slated to sign one of the most lucrative contracts in MLB history this offseason and has garnered interest from a handful of big market teams in need of a shortstop, including the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.