Nolan Arenado, Free Agent 2020 Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees: Pass On Machado, Lock Up Didi, And Wait For Nolan Arenado

The Yankees are in the thick of things in the competition for free agent Manny Machado. But a better plan exists to help the team…

The Yankees, perhaps because they are the Yankees and they feel they have to, appear to be heavy on signing Manny Machado to a long-term and expensive deal. They could do worse, but there’s a better way to achieve what they are seeking.

At this time next year, Rockies third baseman, Nolan Arenado goes on the board as the most sought-after free agent in the Class of 2020.

Arenado is a four-time All-Star who has led the National League in home runs three times, including last year when he hit 38. He’s driven home 130 or more runs three times, and he’s finished in the top ten of the MVP voting each of the last four seasons. Finally, in the field, Nolan Arenado has handled more than 2,600 chances, committing an error only three percent of the time.

How’s that as a resume for a player only 27-years-old? Nolan Arenado is in his final year of arbitration before reaching free agency. It’s likely his $17 million salary of 2018 will climb over the twenty million mark for 2019. Arenado will not come cheap, but depending on what the Yankees do with Machado and others now, the team will have the money available to sign a player with at least as much upside as Machado – as well as a player who carries no baggage.

For the Yankees, the risks are high to wait the extra year, especially if it turns out the Rockies manage to sign Nolan Arenado to an extension that erases his availability as a free agent. Add to that the Yankees will need to keep their intentions a secret from their fans, or risk being in violation of MLB rules.

Arenado himself seemed to put a nix on the extension development telling USA Today in no uncertain terms he is “tired of losing” with the Rockies:

“I don’t want to lose anymore. I just hate it,’’ Arenado, 27, tells USA TODAY Sports. “It’s tough on you. I’ve only been to the playoffs once, and it was only one game, and then it’s gone. We got kicked out quick. “I want to win a division, so we actually play a series. I see the Dodgers, and the guys over there, and they’ve won this division the last five years. I know some of the Giants’ players. They’ve got their World Series rings. “I’m jealous.’’Bob Nightengale, USA Today

The Yankees like players who are tired of losing. James Paxton will get his first taste of what it’s like to pitch on a team that wins, and J.A. Happ will get a full season now to fulfill his dream as well.

Yankees fans and fans across all of baseball witnessed the character and behavior of Manny Machado when he was presented with a golden chance to be on a winning team with the Dodgers. Need to see it again – here ya go. Why risk more of that?

Didi Gregorius, Shortstop New York Yankees
Didi Gregorius, Shortstop New York Yankees Photo Credit: Didi Gregorius (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Skipping on Machado and waiting for Arenado has one other component, which is for the Yankees to sign Didi Gregorius to an extension before he reaches free agent status in the Class of 2020, along with Nolan Arenado.

Since stepping in seamlessly as the heir to Derek Jeter at shortstop, Gregorius has quietly become a solid performer with all the intangibles necessary to lead the team on and off the field. For the moment, the Yankees are struggling to find a replacement for Gregorius, who is expected to miss the first two months of the season while rehabbing Tommy John surgery. Hence, the Yankees anxiousness in finding interest in Machado.

As currently constructed, the Yankees already have the talent to win it all. Pitching, and not the extra offensive production from Machado, will make the difference in determining how far the team goes in 2019.

Thinking in the long term, Nolan Arenado as a New York Yankee sounds a whole lot better than the unpredictable Machado. If only the team can wait…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball

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