NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Manny Machado is doing damage control. The question is, do the Yankees buy it?
The superstar infielder is likely going to get a big free-agent contract this offseason, but many wonder if he’ll break the bank as was speculated back during the regular season, when he was bashing home runs, hitting for average and performing like one of the best players in the game.
Machado did a number on his reputation during his playoff run with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he admitted he’s not all that into hustling.
“I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen,” Machado told The Athletic. “That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
The 26-year-old slugger attempted to clear the air on his comments when he spoke to MLB.com earlier this week.
“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.”
That sentiment may get him in the good graces of Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, who earlier this month called Machado’s comments “troubling,” and added, “that ain’t going to sell where we play baseball.”
Why should Machado care what Steinbrenner thinks? Well, the Yankees look poised to break the bank this offseason in their pursuit of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox in the AL East in 2019. Machado, who hit a combined .297 with 37 homers and 107 RBIs for Baltimore and Los Angeles in 2018, would fit into New York’s lineup perfectly, especially when you consider that starting shortstop Didi Gregorius could miss half the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Adding Machado, a career .282 hitter with 175 homers and 513 RBIs, to a lineup that already features sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, plus young stars Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, would make the Yankees’ already-potent offense otherworldly. Plus, general manager Brian Cashman has made starting pitching the top priority this offseason, as evidenced by Monday’s trade for left-hander James Paxton and several reports suggesting the Bombers could add possibly two more front-end starters, either through trade or free agency.
So we’ll see if Steinbrenner is buying what Machado is selling, and if the boss is ready to back up the money truck.
“I know how I said it and how that came across, and it’s something I take responsibility for,” Machado said. “I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have.”