Once it became clear the Baltimore Orioles were willing to part with Manny Machado at the non-waiver trade deadline, he became the best available talent. That Machado was due to reach free agency this winter was hardly a deterrent to interested clubs.
Just like in 2017, the Dodgers made a splash at the deadline and addressed their void at shortstop by acquiring Machado in exchange for five prospects. In the midst of a career season with the Orioles, Machado didn’t quite match that level of production while with the Dodgers.
Some attributed it to adjusting to a new league and teammates, while others believed the intense spotlight of playing for a World Series contender led to Machado pressing. Inconsistency was compounded by some of Machado’s actions on the field and instances in which his effort was questioned.
That became more of an issue when Machado was asked about admiring long fly balls he believed were home runs and his failure to run out ground balls, to which he explained he is not the type to be a “Johnny Hustle” player.
The remark put an even larger microscope on Machado, and in an interview with Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the 26-year-old acknowledged he did not answer the question properly:
“When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn’t come across how I meant it,” Machado said. “For me, I was trying to talk about how I’m not the guy who is eye wash. There’s a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I’ve always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.
“But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it’s something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have.”
Machado’s explanation mirrors what Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman expressed when he was asked about the shortstop’s demeanor. Friedman admitted the optics of Machado’s behavior was not what one would desire but that it didn’t spawn from a lack of caring.
With Corey Seager due to return in time for Opening Day of the 2019 season, the Dodgers re-signing Machado didn’t appear to be much of a guarantee or likely scenario. And though Friedman detailed an understanding, Machado’s actions figured to have further impacted the possibility.
There nonetheless doesn’t figure to be a complete lack of interest, and he still could sign one of the more lucrative contracts in MLB free agency history.