Last month, I wrote that the Mets should trade for Orioles infielder Manny Machado. Now, with the Mets 2018 season in a tailspin, trading for him at the deadline as I suggested might not currently be the best idea. However, while I may not suggest he be in a Mets uniform for the second half of 2018, I still suggest he be in a Mets uniform for 2019 and beyond.
In the Orioles’ two-game shutout sweep of the Mets, Machado went 1-for-8 with two RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base. While he couldn’t do much damage against Mets pitchers, the rest of the league has not fared as well against the Gold Glover.
He has hit a phenomenal .323/.393/.621 with a 167 wRC+, 18 home runs, 15 doubles, and 49 RBIs; an impressive number considering how challenged the Orioles are offensively outside the slugger Machado.
While Machado is a better third baseman than he is a shortstop (in fact he’s better than most at third base), he intends to play there long-term. The problem is, the Mets have a young, cheap, controllable shortstop that goes by the name of Amed Rosario. They also have a solid third baseman, Todd Frazier, so even if Machado wanted to play third, he’s blocked there too. Though, it is clear that Machado wants to stay at shortstop.
“I made the commitment to go to short. I think moving forward I would like to stay there,” Machado told Mike Puma of the New York Post. “This is not just a move, like you guys like to say, for money purposes. I’m going to get mine. Everybody is going to get theirs. This is where my heart is, where my heart has always been. That’s where I want to be.”
“I moved over for a reason,” Machado continued. “I made a commitment to it, and I’m going to stick to it.”
Basically the Mets have to decide if they’d rather take the cheap route and risk it with Rosario, or spend the money on a sure-thing with Machado at shortstop.
Unless the season takes a hard turn for the better, the Mets will be sellers at the deadline. If that were the case, you can wave goodbye to Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins, though you might have been waving goodbye to them at the end of the season when they became free agents anyways.
Too much lesser degrees you have AJ Ramos, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jose Bautista as veteran pieces that would be dealt. In some way shape or form, a lot of money will be coming off the books, whether it be at the deadline or after the end of the season.
Last offseason, the Mets mis-spent their available budget. They said they needed a starting pitcher, but spent money elsewhere on things the team didn’t need, thus shrinking their budget for a starter. They spent $36 million on Jay Bruce when they already had Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo, and Juan Lagares. They spent $3 million on Jose Reyes when they already had Wilmer Flores, Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme, and T.J. Rivera.
They are spending $6 million on Jason Vargas this season, $8 million on him next season, and they hold an $8 million club option on him for 2020 as well and, knowing the Mets, they’ll probably pick that up. They could have spent all that money on a single impact player like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. If the Mets do, in fact, have a large enough budget to sign Manny Machado this offseason, I seriously doubt they do it — even though they definitely should.
If the Mets sign Machado, they could trade Amed Rosario. There, I said it. Then, with Todd Frazier‘s contract up after 2019, Machado could move back to third base and top prospect Andres Gimenez could man shortstop, or vice-versa. But first, I should probably clarify that bit about trading Amed Rosario.
Whether or not the Mets are sellers this July, they should be targeting the soon-to-be 26-year-old Machado for a long-term contract. Rosario has plenty of upside and can be used as a huge trade chip in going after a much-needed position, even prospects. He would be expendable, especially with still-teenager and Mets top prospect Andres Gimenez lurking in the minor leagues.
When it comes down to it, this offseason will be very important for many reasons. So many huge names will be free agents. Machado, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Bryce Harper, Nelson Cruz, Dallas Keuchel, Daniel Murphy, Andrew Miller — Heck, even Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet, might opt-out of his contract.
The days of 10-year contracts seem to be over, as teams across the league have been reluctant to dole out contracts that long. However, the money is still there, as teams are offering high AAV to entice free agents to come for a shorter amount of time. For example, the Phillies are paying Jake Arrieta $30 million this year and $25 million next year with an opt-out after 2019. Wade Davis signed with Colorado for a 3-year, $52 million deal making him the highest-paid reliever in MLB history (by AAV).
The Mets have the opportunity to make a statement this offseason. They could sign a big name, like Machado, and show that they are back in business. They are willing to spend to win, and they’re not shortening their window, they’re doing their darnedest to extend it.
Or, they can do what they did last offseason. They can sign a few guys they don’t really need and aren’t impact players, and be left with another sub-par season, missing the playoffs. Signing Machado would not only make them a better team on offense, it would not only make them a better team on defense, but it would make them a more watchable team, and a team with an ownership we know is looking out for us and is willing to spend.