It is no secret that Manny Machado is one of the best baseball players in Major League Baseball. It is also no secret that he had somewhat of a controversial 2018 Postseason. With free agency in full swing and Machado on the market, his 2018 playoff behavior should be the least of White Sox fans concerns, and here’s why.
Manny Machado may not have made the best decisions before heading into an offseason where he looks to ask for a contract over $300 million. Throughout the 2018 season with the Dodgers, Machado was often criticized for his lack of effort and hustle. After not hustling down the line on a ground ball to Orlando Arcia in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS, Manny proceeded to make matters worse in an interview with Ken Rosenthal saying, “Obviously I’m not going to change, 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. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.” With that statement White Sox manager Rick Renteria must have lost his mind. The motto “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” has been a staple for the young team since Renteria was hired in 2016. Not hustling will not fly if you are a player on the White Sox and Rick Renteria has made that very clear.
To make matters worse, in the tenth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS, Machado caused benches to clear after stepping on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar on a ground out. The play was undoubtedly dirty yet in the 13th inning, Machado seemed to apologize to Aguilar and the two hugged. After the game Aguilar confirmed this as he said they “turned the page,” yet Brewers outfielder and MVP candidate Christian Yelich was not as forgiving about the incident stating, “it’s a dirty play by a dirty player.” As you might remember, Machado also was involved in a very similar incident in Game 4 of the World Series, stepping on the foot of Red Sox first baseman Steven Pearce running out another grounder. Though, this situation was not as controversial as the first one since Pearce did not react after the out and later stated, “I barely even felt it.” Still, knowing Machado and his base running history, who knows what his intentions were.
Even after all of that, perhaps his worst decision of the 2018 Postseason came in the sixth inning in Game 3 of the World Series where his “Johnny Hustle” statement came back to bite him. With the Dodgers owning a one run lead, Machado hit a ball that looked like it was going over the fence. He looked up, slowly walked out of the batters box, and tossed his bat high thinking he just hit a home run. Turns out the ball did not clear the fence and he ended up getting only a single out of a hit that was for sure a double, possibly a triple. Not a good look for someone trying to command hundreds of millions of dollars in the following month.
While all of those reasons could make White Sox GM Rick Hahn and Owner Jerry Reinsdorf reluctant to hand over $300 million, I don’t believe it will. Manny Machado is right next to Bryce Harper as one of the best players in this loaded 2018 free agent class and will get paid a similar contract to him. Teams like the Yankees have reported to be “lukewarm” on signing him and do not want to give him the amount of money that he is asking for. However, the White Sox are not the Yankees. The White Sox don’t have the luxury of big market teams and the attractiveness of everyone wanting to play for them and have nowhere near the amount of talent as the Yankees at the big league level. In other words, Hahn should care less what other teams think about Machado and use the dwindled market as an advantage to bring Manny Machado to the White Sox.
The White Sox do have two very important advantages in the Machado sweepstakes, though. They have the second lowest payroll in the MLB, with enough money to hand both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper a blank check to come play on the South Side. Another advantage they have is being located in the third biggest city in the United States. While many people think “nobody wants to play for the White Sox,” they forget that the Sox play in a large market city and have a payroll that is currently next to nothing. Additionally, there are countless endorsement opportunities available in the city that could result in significantly more amounts of money for either player. For those reasons alone, it is no wonder why reports have been intensifying about how the Sox will pursue both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
Some of you may be thinking, who would want to pay someone with a history of being a dirty player and not hustling? Well, Manny Machado is not your average player. He is a once in a lifetime infielder who will be in his prime for whatever team he signs with. While his on the field actions and off the field statements are surely frowned upon, one could argue that Machado is still young at 26 years old and has major development and maturity ahead of him. He is an intense player who loves the game and will eventually figure out the right way to play without all of the distractions. Who else would be better to teach Machado how to hustle than Rick Renteria? The White Sox manager is all about hustling and could help Machado mature during the next chapter of his career.
I’ll be the first to admit that after Manny Machados antics in the playoffs, I was skeptical about the White Sox going all out for him. Then, watching Game 4 of the NLCS, I realized that Machado is without a doubt the guy who can finally put this organization on the map. Going into the bottom of the 13th, neither team could get anything going on offense. That’s when Manny came up to bat with two outs. He proceeded to hit a single and then steal second base. He then had the Dodgers in business with Cody Bellinger up to bat with two outs and a 1-1 game in the bottom of the 13th. Bellinger hit a ground ball single past Jesús Aguilar, straight to Gold Glove MVP Christian Yelich in right field. Machado sprinted from second to home with a speed of 28.7 ft/sec and scored the game winning run, beating out the throw from Yelich with a beautiful slide. To put that in perspective the MLB average last season was 27 ft/sec and his average was 26.2 ft/sec. So much for “Johnny Hustle.” Thats the type of player Manny Machado is. He single-handedly turned around the game and gave everything he had to bring home a win.
In conclusion, its obvious to see why the White Sox have been coming up in Machado rumors recently and it is clear that they will do their best to sign him. Reports have already stated that the White Sox have prepared Manny a powerpoint on how they plan to win multiple championships with him at third base. He is one of the final pieces to this rebuild that Hahn has executed to near perfection up to this point. White Sox fans everywhere have faith in you, Rick Hahn. Now go out and bring Manny Machado to the South Side where he belongs.
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