Manny Machado will have some explaining to do.
If Machado wants the Yankees to fork over more than $300 million to sign him this offseason, the 26-year-old star is going to have to clear up what he meant when he told The Athletic during the playoffs that he doesn’t like to hustle, owner Hal Steinbrenner said, according to reports from Newsdays’ David Lennon and the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff.
Via Davioff’s report:
“If it’s a $300 million guy or a $10 million guy, clearly those comments are troubling,” Steinbrenner told a small group of reporters. “But that’s really [general manager Brian Cashman’s] job. If we’re interested in any player, sit down with him face to face and ask him, ‘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?’
Let’s break down what this could mean.
Machado won’t get to duck it: One would have figured Machado would have to explain himself. His comments offended baseball fans and, really, just about anyone who believes they work hard everyday at their jobs. He’s going to have to not just explain himself, but likely explain himself to the fan base of the team he eventually calls home. Hard to believe Machado getting all that money and then standing by those comments will fly, particularly in the Bronx.
But it might not change anything: The Yankees might be perfectly fine with the way Machado plays. Consider: He’s one of the best hitters to ever hit free agency, particularly at his age. Players who can man the left side of the infield coming off a season in which they posted a .297 batting average, 37 homers and 107 RBI in 162 games don’t come along … ever, really. So it could be all talk — as long as Machado understands the Yankees won’t be cool with him embarrassing himself or them.
1 offseason priority for every Yankee
A mea culpa? With Steinbrenner coming out against Machado’s comment, it might force Machado to put out a statement even before he signs with a team that he either plans to change his ways or that maybe he had misspoken and that he does play hard, but in perhaps different ways. (Think in terms of preparation or maintaining his health or on defense.)
Other options: The Yankees are obviously letting Machado know he’s not their sole desire. And there are a lot of options out there. Here are some quick non-Machado options to fill the spot that’s open — at least half of next season — due to Didi Gregorius’ Tommy John surgery:
1. Move Gleyber Torres to shortstop, plug in at second base.
2. Add a new shortstop externally.
3. Promote Tyler Wade or Ronald Torreyes into an everyday role, probably at second base with Torres moving to shortstop until Gregorius returns.
None of those options is as good as just throwing a ton of money at Machado. But there’s a PR aspect to all of this, too. Steinbrenner isn’t going to sign a player he’s worried might embarrass him by not hustling despite a multi-hundred-million-dollar commitment. And he’s letting that be known.
And by the way, there’s this:
.@RealMichaelKay: “The Yankees are IN, in a serious way, on Manny Machado.” pic.twitter.com/yn5J9bYDx6
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 14, 2018
Brendan Kuty may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.