Spring training camps open this week, signaling the end of baseball’s long winter break. The only problem, however, is that the game’s top free agents remain unsigned. In that sense, the offseason stands no closer to resolution than it did in November.
Manny Machado, a 26-year-old infielder with an elite bat, is one of those free agents. The interesting part about Machado’s case, however, stems from his connection to the Yankees. The roller coaster has run its course, complete with highs and lows and loop-the-loops, and it now appears to have pulled back into the starting gate for another round.
When considering Machado’s free agent dance with the Yankees, it becomes useful to break the varying degrees into their own phases. Three distinct periods come to mind, beginning with the early offseason. One can best describe this segment as a time of tempering expectations on behalf of the Bombers.
According to Andy Martino, team officials emerged from their front office meetings with a clear winter strategy. They would pass on Bryce Harper out of hand, but express interest in Machado at their price. Jon Heyman expected that would check in south of the $300 million mark.
The next period began around the Winter Meetings, and it saw the Yankees put on a full court press to land the superstar. The club met with Machado on December 19th to sell him on signing with New York. They even entertained using Miguel Andujar as a trade chip, with the presumption being that Machado would fill his place at the hot corner. Optimism grew as the 26-year-old followed several Yankees related accounts on Instagram.
All optimism left the room shortly thereafter. Machado told teams he would inform them of his decision after the new year, but the Yankees agreed to a one-year deal with Troy Tulowitzki on January 1. They continued their infield business by signing DJ LeMahieu less than two weeks later. All of a sudden the Yankees had a lot less incentive to deal with Machado. Team officials never said they were out, but it didn’t look good.
Now, however, the process appears to have restarted. Over the weekend, buzz surrounding the Yankees and Machado picked up thanks to speculative comments made by Jim Duquette. That got lost in translation, as multiple outlets rushed to report that the Yankees made a $220 million bid for the infielder. While that is unclear, it does sound like the Bombers have reengaged, but at their price. This sure feels like November again, doesn’t it?
It is funny to imagine Machado telling his agent, Dan Lozano, to go back to square one. Regardless of why, the door remains open for the Bombers to get back into the mix. The Yankees may have their infield settled on paper, but they can find a way to make room for the star. If they go through the whole routine again, just hope it plays out at double the speed.