Usually when a person wins the lottery, he/she wins millions of dollars and the success was virtually all luck. Yankee fans may be carrying an extra rabbit foot with them, but unfortunately, luck has nothing to do with landing marquee free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
The Yankees will have to dole out millions of dollars to win this sweepstakes.
Machado and Harper are both hitting free agency at the ripe young age of 26. This is much younger than most players hit free agency. Harper and Machado were drafted 1st and 3rd overall respectively in the 2010 MLB Draft. In 2012, both players made their debut at age 19.
This means if either player is to sign, let’s say, a 10 year deal, they will be 36 when their contract expires. At this point in their career, they will be on their decline as a MLB player. The mammoth amount of money either player signs for will be worth it all the way through their contract because they will be just fulfilling the remaining years of their contracts. They’ll be battling for more money in a second round of free agency.
Aaron Judge, the head of the Baby Bombers, is the same age as Machado and Harper: 26. Judge is making less than a million dollars and is under team control in 2019. His arbitration years begin in 2020. He will get paid at the age of 30…His contract is very team friendly which allows the Yankees to make moves for Stanton, Harper and Machado.
For reference, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are in very unfriendly team contracts. Pujols and Cabrera are two of the greatest batters of this generation, but they are only shells of their prior selves.
Pujols signed a 10 year, $240,000,000 contract at age 32 and will be paid $30,000,000 at age 41 in 2021. Cabrera signed an 8 year deal for $248,000,000 at age 33 in 2016 and will be paid $30,000,000 at age 42 in 2025 (https://www.spotrac.com/).
This proves how valuable it will be to lock up Harper and Machado at this point in their careers and be able to set them free when they begin their decline in 2028.
The pros and cons of both players favor Machado in New York’s case. The Yankees can plug Manny in at SS until Didi’s return, then insert him at 3B where he is a better defender.
He settled into some impressive power numbers over the last few years. From 2012-2014, he had a .439 slugging percentage, and from 2015-2018 was .511. Last season, he also sent 37 balls into the bleachers for the second time in his career.
The combination of offense and defense, including some serious swagger make Machado the better option this winter.
As for Harper, his numbers certainly jump off the page; his career slashline is .279/.388/.512 including 26 homers a year. In 2015, he lead the league with 42 home runs, 118 runs, and a .460 OBP and .649 SLG which culminated an MVP award.
Harper’s ceiling is certainly higher, but he plays a defensive position where the Yankees have more than enough depth. The Yankees resigned Gardner, have Ellsbury on the shelf, and have Frazier in AAA, not to mention Judge, Hicks, and Stanton.
The Yankees could trade Stanton to clear a position spot and money, but most teams in need of a right fielder are interested in Harper instead of acquiring a 13 year, $325,000,000 contract that Stanton signed in 2015. The Yankees have Giancarlo under contract until 2028.
Both players have fiery personalities. Harper had a run in with his temper and Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland in 2017. Harper charged the mound on Memorial Day after Strickland hit Harper with a pitch as repercussion for Harper’s dominance over Strickland in the 2014 NLDS.
More recently, Machado made waves with some dirty play in the 2018 playoffs.
Yankees fans can notice that these lapses in judgement are a result of the passion in each player and each incident either occurred in the playoffs or resulted because of something that happened in the playoffs.
If either player is making waves, Yankees fans should be more than okay about it because Machado or Harper will be leading the Yankees to the playoffs.
Machado has visited with the White Sox, Phillies, and Yankees and now Yankee fans will just have to wait and pull out the stops on all their good luck charms. I know I will be carrying a 4 leaf clover with me to try and will Machado onto the Yankees roster.
What it really comes down to is Cashman’s ability to dress Manny in pinstripes through convincing Machado to play third base and putting the right dollar amount on paper. The money is going to be historically large for both Harper and Machado no matter where they land.
Harper is certainly a franchise changing player as well, but too much has to happen to get the 2015 MVP in the Bronx. The possibility of Machado is much more realistic.
Featured Image: via Wikipedia Commons