NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — At some point just after 2019 officially rolls in, Manny Machado is expected to announce where he’ll play the next several seasons of his career.
The Yankees remain in the mix, if not the front-runner, reportedly competing with the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies for the 26-year-old slugger’s services. However, various reports have suggested the Yanks don’t want to pony up the decade-long, $300 million-plus deal Machado has apparently been craving.
Though it is unknown what kind of proposal general manager Brian Cashman has made to the superstar infielder, the belief is the Yankees are hopeful Machado will take less — presumably in years more than dollars per year — to play for the team many have said is his top choice.
And while what the White Sox and Phillies offered Machado is also a mystery, they have made it clear throughout the offseason that they are ready to spend big to land one of the most high-profile free agents available in some time.
So, the intrigue on that end will likely last another week at a minimum.
In the interim, the Yankees have things to do. Despite trading for James Paxton and re-signing J.A. Happ to a two-year contract, there is a case to be made that their rotation is still not good enough to truly compete with the Red Sox in the AL East or win a World Series, something the Bombers haven’t done since 2009.
The news of veteran C.C. Sabathia recently having a stent inserted to alleviate a blockage in an artery leading to his heart shows how fragile this rotation continues to be despite the additions. Right now, the 38-year-old left-hander is New York’s fifth starter, and while it’s true young southpaw Jordan Montgomery is expected to return from Tommy John surgery at some point to bolster the starting staff, the Yankees still lack that true No. 1 ace.
The bottom line is the Yankees won 100 games last season and still finished eight back of the Red Sox in the East and then lost to them in four games in the AL Division Series. As of this moment, Boston’s starting five of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez has less question marks than New York’s projected five of Luis Severino, Paxton, Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and Sabathia.
All has been quiet on the Yankees front since just before Christmas, but it’s possible Cashman will renew his pursuit of more starting pitching in the days and weeks to come. The free agent market has dried up considerably and the Yanks are not believed to be interested in lefty Dallas Keuchel, who is easily the best starter still available. However, they could make a pitch for Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who will return to the Seibu Lions if he doesn’t get an MLB deal by Jan. 1. The Yankees had reportedly shown interest in him before, but like with all the players that come from the Far East, it’s hard to know what you’re really getting. It seems like for every Tanaka, there is a Kei Igawa.
There’s also the possibility of a trade for front-end help, but Cashman has reportedly found asking prices for aces to be astronomical.
The Yankees also need to add legitimate arms to their bullpen. Though they signed lefties Rex Brothers and Danny Coulombe to minor league contracts last week, neither has the track record of a Zach Britton, David Robertson, or, to a lesser degree, Adam Ottavino. All three free agents remain available, though there has been significant movement in the reliever market of late, with Jeurys Familia going to the Mets, Joe Kelly landing with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andrew Miller signing with St. Louis.
Getting back to Machado for a moment, the Yankees were one of 11 MLB teams to attend veteran Troy Tulowitzki’s workout at Long Beach State in California prior to the holiday. The 34-year-old infielder, who is working his way back from double heel surgery, was recently released by Toronto, despite having $38 million left on his contract. He reportedly passed every test at his workout and will have no shortage of suitors once the Machado decision is made.
Expect the Yankees to be right in the mix for Tulowitzki if Machado goes for the monster payday elsewhere.