Corey Seager requiring Tommy John surgery created a significant void for the Los Angeles Dodgers that they managed to temporarily plug by shuffling internal options at shortstop. Then days before the non-waiver trade deadline, they acquired Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles.
One of the game’s top talents and in the midst of a career season, the Dodgers were lauded for the trade. Many believed it not only gave them an answer to replace Seager but also a vaunted right-handed bat in a lineup that was anchored by left-handed sluggers.
“When Seager went down, that was a big hole for us and we were looking at different ways to fill it. From our standpoint, Manny was — and is — an impact-type player,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.
“He came in and helped solidify our lineup and was better at short than we even anticipated. Chris Woodward did some really good work with him. So from a helping us win games standpoint, we feel like he came in and did a lot to get us to the point we did.”
Machado had his moments during the second half and during parts of the postseason, but also came under scrutiny for multiple reasons. There were his comments about not being “Jonny Hustle,” which came on the heels of failing to run out a grounder and questionable slides during the National League Championship Series.
Despite Machado’s laid-back persona, Friedman doesn’t believe it stemmed from a lack of caring. “He’s talked about the not hustling thing and Doc talked to him a lot about it. Some guys don’t hustle, and it’s that they don’t really care,” Friedman explained.
“And some guys don’t hustle and they do care. That distinction does matter in terms of the mindset the guys have. It wasn’t a great look. Being up in the suite and looking at it, it’s not a great look. He even commented that he watched a replay, where he’s like, ‘Oh, wow. That didn’t look great.’
“But again, I don’t think it got to the fact that he didn’t care. I think he did care, and I think his teammates probably liked him and respected him. But there were times where it played out in a way where even he said it wasn’t the greatest look.”
While Friedman came to Machado’s defense, it’s considered unlikely the 26-year-old re-signs with the Dodgers. Seager is set to return during Spring Training and be prepared for 2019 Opening Day. All indications are he will again man shortstop.
Machado’s actions and demeanor do appear to have impacted his free agency in some regard, but the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies reportedly are among the interested clubs.