The news that Didi Gregorius must undergo Tommy John surgery this offseason makes it clear the Yankees must sign Manny Machado in free agency.
The Yankees always expected to be one of this season’s most active teams in free agency, but Didi Gregorius’ injury is going to shift the team’s priorities. Specifically, acquiring shortstop Manny Machado will now became one of New York’s top priorities.
The fact that Gregorius needs to undergo Tommy John surgery puts his entire 2019 season in jeopardy. Aaron Boone is optimistic he’ll rejoin the team during the regular season, but there are certainly no guarantees. His absence could push Gleyber Torres back to shortstop. There is another, more intriguing option though.
The more likely course of action for the Yankees is to pursue a shortstop in free agency. There will be no better option on the open market than Machado. He may not be a great defender any longer, but he’s still one of the best hitters in baseball. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would strike fear in Yankee opponents.
Of course, numerous teams will be interested in signing Machado this winter. There are, however, persistent rumors that the Yankees are his No. 1 choice. If that’s true, expect Brian Cashman to make this dream signing a reality. The fact that the Yankees stayed under the luxury tax this season gives the organization a lot of cash to spend. Signing Machado may not have been the team’s top priority last week, but the Gregorius injury changes things.
Remember, Gregorius is also slated to hit free agency after next season. That makes the idea of signing Machado to take over the shortstop position for the foreseeable future even more enticing. The Yankees would only have to pay two starting caliber shortstops for one season. That’s likely going to be a requirement due to Gregorius’ injury no matter who the other player happens to be.
Again, this doesn’t mean Machado is going to be the only player the Yankees target in free agency. Patrick Corbin will still be a player the team pursues with great vigor. Fixing the starting rotation will remain at or near the top of Cashman’s to do list.
If anything, the increased interest in Machado might pull the Yankees out of the race to sign Bryce Harper. It’s unlikely Cashman will spend the cash required to sign two superstar bats this offseason. That Gregorius injury may shift the money earmarked for Harper to Machado instead.
Expect to see a ton of reports linking the Yankees with a big-money offer to Machado as soon as they’re permitted to make one. He’s the club’s best option to recover from Gregorius’ unfortunate injury.