Before heading into free agency for the first time in his career, Manny Machado’s reputation took a bit of a hit while playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2018 postseason.
First, Machado’s character was called into a question after a number of plays that were considered dirty, most notably when he kicked Milwaukee Brewers’ Jesús Aguilar’s leg while running through first base on a groundout.
Machado then faced scrutiny over a lack of hustle as he did not run out multiple ground balls and stood at the plate admiring fly balls that he believed were home runs, only for his drives to instead hit off the wall and wind up being long singles.
Machado is still expected to sign one of the most lucrative contracts in league history this winter, but teams certainly have their questions.
One of those teams is the New York Yankees, who have been connected to Machado for a number of years as a potential landing spot. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner recently said that discussions with Machado about his lack of hustle will have to be had before New York considers signing him, via David Lennon of Newsday:
“If it’s a $300-million guy, or a $10-million guy, clearly those comments are troubling,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday at the owners meetings. “But that’s really [Brian Cashman’s] job — if we’re interested in any player — to sit down with them face to face, and the agent, and ask them, ‘Where did this come from? What was the context around the entire interview? Was there a point you were trying to make? How do you justify it?’
“Because that ain’t going to sell where we play baseball. And that conversation will happen no matter who it is.”
With shortstop Corey Seager due back from injury, the Dodgers aren’t expected to pursue Machado as much as some other teams, although a reunion can’t completely be ruled out.
Other than the Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox are teams that could end up signing the four-time All-Star. Both Machado and Bryce Harper could sign contracts north of $300 million this offseason.