With the Yankees potentially having their sights set on two possible infielders, they should choose Manny Machado over Nolan Arenado.
The narrative for years was that the Yankees would slowly cut payroll to get under the luxury tax in 2018 so that they could spend big in the 2019 offseason. While the Yankees have made several good acquisitions, they still haven’t made the big splash fans were hoping for.
Now, it’s been reported that ownership may prefer to pass on Manny Machado and wait for Nolan Arenado to become available next season. However, there are a few flaws in that reasoning.
First, the window for winning the World Series is small and it’s usually smaller than people think. Of course, the Yankees have a bevy of young talent, but injuries happen and players leave in free agency. The Yankees can win the World Series right now. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll have the same opportunity next year. Manny Machado helps them win now.
Second, there’s a chance Arenado won’t be available next offseason. Arenado could sign an extension with the Rockies any time between now and next November. The way this free agent market is playing out, it wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t want to risk getting low-balled by money hungry owners.
Third, if the Yankees don’t sign Machado, and don’t even appear interested in Bryce Harper, what makes you think they’ll all of a sudden spend big on Arenado? They’re going over the luxury tax this year. There’s no question about that. So, why not go all out and sign Machado now, instead of waiting to sign Arenado next offseason? There’s not a ton of money coming off the books after next season. There will be in 2020 when Mike Trout is available, but, again, that doesn’t help the Yankees win now.
Fourth, Arenado is older than Machado. Arenado will spend the entire 2019 season at age 28. He’ll be 29 when he would start playing for the Yankees. A seven to ten-year contract would put him in his late-30s when players really start to decline.
On the other hand, Machado doesn’t even turn 27 until July. A seven to ten-year year contract would put Machado in his mid-30s, avoiding his inevitable age-related decline.
Lastly, Machado will be better going forward. Arenado boasts a career slash line of .291/.346/.539 (.297/.374/.561 in 2018). Since 2015, he’s averaging nearly 40 home runs and 123 RBIs per year. Meanwhile, Machado is averaging close to 36 home runs and 96 RBIs per year over that same span.
He has a career slash line of .282/.335/.487 (.297/.367/.538 in 2018). Both players are all-world defenders at third base. Machado is a decent defender at shortstop and got quite a bit better throughout the 2018 season. So, how could Machado possibly be better?
Well, it warrants a closer look. The concern is Arenado’s home and road splits. His slash line of .347/.424/.681 at home is ridiculous. But on the road, his slash line drops to .248/.325/.447. To put these numbers into perspective, Arenado is a perennial MVP candidate at home and a replacement-level third baseman on the road.
As mentioned above, a lot of Arenado’s value comes from his defensive ability. But passing on Machado to sign Arenado is foolish. Machado is both younger and should produce at a higher level going forward. Not to mention, he’s familiar with the AL East.
The Yankees would be smart to choose Manny Machado now, rather than Nolan Arenado later.