One thing is certain this offseason: Free-agency speculation will churn on a daily basis. Today, the White Sox are the benefactor of possibility. In Ken Rosenthal’s latest league-wide update he named the White Sox, according to a league source, as a dark horse to land Manny Machado.
“Rebuilding teams such as the Reds and White Sox, finally tired of losing 95-plus games,” writes Rosenthal, “are likely to spend and maybe even spend big. One rival executive views the Whtie Sox as a sleeper for Machado, whom they pursued heavily in a trade last offseason.”
This is not new news. Most prognosticators and bloggers have been eyeing Machado for the White Sox since last offseason as well. Most teams will make a strong bid for one of the best infielders in the game and the auction is likely to gain more than its fair share of attention.
Machado fits the White Sox needs and immediately fills a hole in the infield. It’s no secret that Machado wants to play shortstop and Tim Anderson is unlikely to object if the White Sox can move a deal across the finish line for Machado. The good news is that Machado can easily substitute at third base while Jake Burger develops in the minors. Whether Burger can make a complete recovery after rupturing his Achilles last season is still a major concern and could add incentive to cementing a deal with Machado.
And there is always the possibility of reshuffling the infield completely and moving Anderson to second base, inserting Machado at shortstop and letting Yoan Moncada play third. However, Hahn and other White Sox brass have demurred at this possibility and frankly, it’s premature to ditch Moncada’s development at second base. Still, if 2018 first-round pick Nick Madrigal develops as expected the whole infield could be rethought entirely.
For most White Sox fans, the biggest variable is Jerry Reinsdorf. Every free agent season for the South Siders is qualified with skepticism about whether Uncle Jerry will sign the check. Bidding on Machado will start at a blushing figure, around $300 million over a decade. Where the final figure lands could be somewhere close to $400 million. According to Fangraphs salary-tool that blends a set of salary figures with WAR totals, the results are wildly inconsistent. Plugging in Machado’s 2018 WAR (6.2) with his career WAR gives him a salary north of $500 million for 10 years while using his 2017 WAR (2.6) only pays him $226 million. The four-point swing in WAR between those seasons is uncharacteristic of Machado and he has consistently hovered between five and six WAR over his career.
Indeed the White Sox are a fit for Machado. Other teams fit Machado’s skill set as well. Rosenthal mentions the Reds, Twins and Angels as likely suitors and with a surplus of cash the Phillies are sure to push the price higher. Lest we not forget the Yankees and the year-long injury to Didi Gregorious. No matter what report comes out of the Yankees front office, they will be actively bidding for Machado.
So buckle up, Sox fans. We’re in for a ride.