After relying on a tandem of Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor for multiple months, the Los Angeles Dodgers found a more permanent solution to fill the void left when Corey Seager underwent Tommy John surgery by trading for Manny Machado before the non-waiver deadline.
Machado easily was the most-talented player on the trading block, marking a second consecutive season the Dodgers made a splash at the deadline. Although the team still had plenty of fighting to do to win the National League West, the acquisition of Machado very much was with the World Series in mind.
He and the Dodgers needed a Game 163 but went on to win the NL West, then eliminated the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers in the postseason before falling short to the Boston Red Sox.
Machado went into free agency not expecting to receive much interest from the Dodgers, as Seager was due back by the start of the 2019 season. Machado endured a slow-moving market but eventually signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
Tuesday marked his first visit to Dodger Stadium since leaving the Dodgers, which prompted the talented shortstop to reflect on the five months he spent with the club, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Obviously we had a great time here in L.A. We had a great run to the World Series. It was the first time I had ever been traded. The fans took me in, the organization took me in. My teammates, the staff were all beyond wonderful to me. It was truly an amazing time.”
Although the Dodgers re-signing Machado never appeared very likely, the front office and manager Dave Roberts have regularly spoken fondly of the 26-year-old. “I enjoyed having Manny. I really did,” Roberts said during the Dodgers’ visit to Petco Park earlier this month.
“To be able to write his name in the lineup every day is a good thing for a manager. I think the guys liked him, he helped us get to the World Series. I think he got a little bit of a bad rap; some of it was self-induced, but he’s a heck of a ballplayer. Very good competitor. He posts, plays every day. I’m a big fan.”
Roberts said in jest he hoped Dodgers fans booed Machado in his return to Dodger Stadium. The fourth-year manager considers it sort of a badge of honor for talented players.
Fans obliged during lineup introductions, then showered Machado with more boos after he clubbed a two-run home run off Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning. The home run was Machado’s ninth this season, fourth against the Dodgers and second at Kershaw’s expense.